West Virginia bill would ban agencies from touting 'divisive' concepts, like US is 'fundamentally racist'

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A group of West Virginia legislators are proposing that the state prohibit its contractors and agencies from promoting what they describe as “divisive” ideas about race and sex.

Introduced last week, the bill touches on an already raging battle over government-backed training and curricula promoting critical race theory and associated messaging.

“It shall be the policy of the State of West Virginia not to promote race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating in the workforce, and not to allow grant funds to be used for these purposes,” the legislation reads. “In addition, state contractors will not be permitted to inculcate such views in their employees.”

“Divisive concepts” included a long list of ideas such as that the “United States is fundamentally racist or sexist,” “an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex,” and that “any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.”


The bill is being sponsored by four Republicans — Johnnie Wamsley of Mason, Riley Keaton of Roane, Josh Holstein of Boone, and Trenton Barnhart of Pleasants.

Its language echoed an order from former President Trump on the issue. President Biden reversed that order, making it less likely that ideas like those will make any headway at the federal level. 

Meanwhile, activists like Chris Rufo, who prompted Trump’s actions through a series of whistleblower reports on government training programs, are seeking to influence the debate in other ways. Rufo has praised, for example, West Virginia’s law and a similar one proposed in New Hampshire.

A new legal coalition formed by him and his allies is also working to bring individual complaints before courts across the country, with the stated goal of eventually bringing a case before the Supreme Court.

Programs that promote critical race theory and associated ideas have gained steam among government officials and educators, however, as they’re painted as ways to dismantle what many consider to be structural forms of oppression.

Oregon’s Department of Education, for example, told Fox News earlier this month that an anti-racist math training for teachers “helps educators learn key tools for engagement, develop strategies to improve equitable outcomes for Black, Latinx, and multilingual students, and join communities of practice.”

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