Local teacher joins ACLU lawsuit against anti-Critical Race Theory law

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — A controversial state law faces a new legal challenge. HB 1775 is known as the so-called anti-Critical Race Theory law, and it limits certain teachings about race and gender. A subway professor is now also joining the lawsuit with the ACLU.

“I’m petrified,” said Anthony Crawford, a teacher at a Metro high school.

When Anthony Crawford was a student, he was kicked out of class after asking a question during Black History Month.

“I asked my teacher, ‘When are we going to learn black history?’ And he kind of got pissed off,” Crawford said. “He said I was defiant. I didn’t understand him at the time, but as I got older I said, ‘Oh, because it was uncomfortable for him to teach black history in the classroom. .”

Now Crawford works at a predominantly black school. He is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit by the ACLU, among other organizations, asking a federal judge to suspend the anti-CRT law so the details and rules can be fine-tuned.

Anthony Crawford, KFOR image

ACLU attorney Hanna Roberts said CRT is a theory taught in colleges. She said it wasn’t taught in Oklahoma schools because the complex subject matter would go over children’s heads.

“He said that individual racism is not the only type of racism that exists in the world, that there are things like systemic racism, racism that exists or is embedded in our politics, our legal system and judiciary,” Roberts said.

Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, told KFOR that people misinterpret the law.

“He says you’re not going to teach the concept that an individual should feel guilty about these things,” West said.

Roberts said the ACLU argued that the CRT Act violated First Amendment rights and the rights of children to learn in the classroom and prevented meaningful debates.

“Being able to have conversations about these difficult topics makes it easier for students to function in the real world,” Roberts said.

“To all teachers who care, teach [Oklahoma] standards and you’ll be fine,” West said.

Crawford thinks otherwise.

“Even by Oklahoma standards, it still shows things that we can’t teach, which is black history,” Crawford said. “For African Americans, we have learned European history all our lives. We felt uncomfortable from the moment we entered the classroom.

“It’s perfectly fine to say what’s happened in the past,” West said. “What is not acceptable is to say that because you are part of this group, you automatically fall into this same statistic.”

Crawford said he was afraid of what might happen to him being part of the trial. Not only does he have a child of his own, but many students depend on him. However, he thinks the fight is worth it.

“I am always a voice for their education. So I have to be that voice whether we can’t teach certain things or not,” Crawford said.

The ACLU said it sees this law unfolding exactly as it warned, which is another reason it asked the judge to suspend it nine months ago. The decision is still pending.

The state attorney general’s office said it could not comment due to the lawsuit.

Sharon D. Cole