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TN schools could face penalties if they violate new state law banning lessons on race & gender topics

State Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn recently signed an emergency ruling where schools’ funding could be withheld if they violate this law.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In May, Tennessee lawmakers banned schools from teaching about certain topics on race and gender.

The State Department of Education released updated guidance that discusses the financial consequences of this law that could affect your student’s district.

It’s a concept that’s caused heated debate from families all across Tennessee: how to teach about race in the classroom.

When asked if she felt the law was offensive, Rep. Vincent Dixie (D-District 54) said "definitely."

"It would be offensive to any person of color. If you think about Black people, what we’ve gone through to build this country to what it is and all the brutalization that we’ve had to endure over the years and the discomfort that we felt just by walking down the street,” Rep. Dixie said.

Tennessee lawmakers passed a law prohibiting educators from talking about fourteen different concepts. Most GOP leaders said they feel that language is divisive.

State Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn recently signed an emergency ruling where schools’ funding could be withheld if they violate this law.

Included in the fourteen prohibited concepts:

  1. One (1) race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
  2. An individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously;
  3. An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the individual's race or sex;
  4. An individual's moral character is determined by the individual's race or sex;
  5. An individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
  6. An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual's race or sex;
  7. A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist, or designed by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex;
  8. This state or the United States is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist;
  9. Promoting or advocating the violent overthrow of the United States government;
  10. Promoting division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people;
  11. Ascribing character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual's race or sex;
  12. The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups;
  13. All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; or
  14. Governments should deny to any person within the government's jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.

“If teachers could just be allowed to teach the facts of history, and that doesn’t necessarily have to come with a cloud of guilt,” says Katie Rose, a Williamson County mother with three students in the district.

If a school knowingly violates the law, 2% to 10% of state funds could be withheld.

We deserve to allow kids to have conversations and opinions and discussions,” says Rose.

FOX 17 News reached out to more than a dozen GOP lawmakers who supported this law and wanted to know their response to those who feel this censors teachers and attempts to whitewash history.

We have not received a response.

"This law just reeks of the opposite of what it’s trying to do. It reeks of white privilege. Imagine having so much power you can say I don’t want you to learn about the dark parts of my history,” said Rep. Dixie.

While the complaints are sent to the local schools to handle, the State Department of Education says leaders there will handle any appeals.

The department has not received any appeals since the rule has gone into effect.