June 29, 2021
Evanston, Illinois: Today, Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) filed an historic federal lawsuit in the Northern District of Illinois to stop Evanston/Skokie School District 65 from discriminating against its teachers and students on the basis of race through illegal and unconstitutional teacher training, classroom curriculum, and overall policies and procedures.
SLF filed suit on behalf of a teacher in the district, who for years has been forced to participate in, teach, and observe programming that discriminates against individuals on the basis of race. The U.S. Department of Education in January 2021 found that the District engaged in illegal discrimination through its policies and programs. But just days after inauguration, the Biden administration withdrew those findings.
In its lawsuit, SLF now asks the court to halt the District’s discriminatory practices which violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act because they treat people differently solely based on the color of their skin. Founded in 1976, SLF has appeared successfully before the U.S. Supreme Court in multiple landmark civil rights cases.
“By vowing to define its teachers and students solely by their race, District 65 promotes and reinforces a view of race essentialism that divides Americans into groups based solely on their skin color,” warns SLF General Counsel Kimberly Hermann. “District 65 teaches its teachers and students that their whole identity comes from the color of their skin. It teaches them to hate each other. It teaches them not only how to be racist, but that they should be racist. This is illegal, wrong, and must be stopped.”
Since 2017, District 65 has openly declared its commitment “to focusing on race as one of the first visible indicators of identity.” Put into practice, the District demands that nearly every policy, teacher training session, and lesson plan focus on racial identity.
For example, the District required its teachers to attend mandatory “antiracist” training that included segregating teachers into racially exclusive affinity groups, requiring them to engage in racial discrimination against each other. The District also required teachers to participate in mandatory privilege walks where they were segregated by their color. Through these trainings, teachers were conditioned to see each other’s skin color first and foremost.
Then, once District 65 indoctrinated the teachers with these divisive, hateful, and racist lessons, it moved on to the students. For example, District 65 also segregated students into racially exclusive affinity groups, required students to participate in racially segregated privilege walks, and gave students race surveys. And in its curriculum for Pre-K through eighth grade, District 65 continuously reinforces hateful and discriminatory messages such as “white people have a very, very serious problem and they should start thinking about what they should do about it” and even included an anti-racist pledge in its lesson plans.
“As the U.S. Supreme Court reminded us, ‘The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.’ The Constitution demands equality for all individuals without racial preference,” SLF Litigation Director Braden Boucek explains.