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Brown Co. School Corporation says students can't opt out of diversity lessons for Black History Month

Joe Hren

Brown County Schools is investigating a letter that would allow parents to opt their children out of Black History Month-inspired diversity lessons.

In the letter sent to parents earlier this month, Sprunica Elementary School counselor Benjamin White detailed his plan to spend the next two weeks going to different classes “teaching lessons related to equity, caring, and understanding differences” in honor of Black History Month and Valentine’s Day.

White said the lessons would give students a greater understanding of diversity in the classroom and the outside world, with hopes of setting them up for future success and “facilitat[ing] a better learning environment for all.” But, he wrote, parents uncomfortable with the idea could opt their kids out of the lessons.

In an emailed statement, Superintendent Emily Tracy said the corporation does not allow students and parents to opt out of required curriculum, including instruction on social studies and histories. She said she was looking into the matter.

“Our district supports teaching about the facts in our history including historical injustices,” Tracy wrote. “We are and will continue to be committed to having compassion for all and supporting an education community that will allow all students, staff, families and community members the opportunity to feel welcome.”

This comes as the state legislature discusses bills on teaching critical race theory in schools, including the controversial HB 1134. Sen. Linda Rogers (R-Granger), the bill’s Senate sponsor, signaled she planned to propose an amendment today that would water the bill down after public outcry.

Mitch Legan