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Tennessee teachers sue over state restrictions on CRT curriculum: 'Laws need to be clear'

The Tennessee Education Association, the largest teachers union in Tennessee, is suing the state over the restrictions placed on curriculum.

The largest teachers union in Tennessee is suing the state over the restrictions placed on curriculum.

The Tennessee Education Association (TEA) along with five other public school educators on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Tennessee Commissioner of Education and members of the State Board of Education to challenge the "constitutionality" of the restrictions placed on teaching racial and gender issues.

The lawsuit challenges the prohibited concepts law, which was passed in 2021 and that bans certain subjects and topics from being taught in classrooms. 

The teachers union claims the law "prohibits teaching of core subjects in Tennessee State Standards, which puts teachers in an impossible position and deprives students of a quality education."

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The lawsuit alleges the "unconstitutionally vague" law violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, making teaching a challenge for Tennessee educators because they are not given a "reasonable opportunity to understand what conduct it prohibits as well as it encourages "arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement."

"There is no group of individuals more passionate and committed to ensuring Tennessee students receive a high-quality education than public school educators," Knox County Educator and Tennessee Education Association President Tanya T. Coats said. "This law interferes with Tennessee teachers’ job to provide a fact-based, well-rounded education to their students."

"Laws need to be clear. The prohibited concepts law conflicts with the state’s own academic standards and curriculum, which creates unfair risks to Tennessee teachers using state-approved materials, following state standards, and providing fact-based instruction," Coats continued. "Educators have already spent countless hours trying to understand and navigate the law’s unclear requirements."

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According to the legislation, Tennessee’s teachers are prohibited from instructing students that "an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously."

In addition, the law prohibits schools from teaching the concept that "an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the individual's race or sex" and "an individual's moral character is determined by the individual's race or sex." 

However, the penalty for a transgression is steep. The state education commissioner could withhold funds from any school found to be in violation.

For more Culture, Media, Education, Opinion, and channel coverage, visit foxnews.com/media

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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