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Gov. Reynolds signs bill banning certain diversity trainings, including ones that address systematic racism

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DES MOINES (KWWL) - Gov. Reynolds has signed a bill into law that will ban diversity training that implies the U.S. and the State of Iowa are systemically racist, and training that includes so-called "race scapegoating".

HF 802 applies to all Iowa schools, public universities, and government agencies and will go into effect July 1. The bill passed through Iowa Congress in early May after being amended by the Senate and sent back to the House.

It says agencies cannot hold trainings that involve certain "specific defined concepts." These include the notion that the country and state are fundamentally or systemically racist or sexist, as well as training that forces people to apologize for their race or sex, or cause people to feel guilty because of their race or sex.

Also identified as "specific defined concepts" are ideas that one race or sex is inherently superior and that someone can be inherently racist or sexist because of their race or sex.

“Critical Race Theory is about labels and stereotypes, not education. It teaches kids that we should judge others based on race, gender or sexual identity, rather than the content of someone’s character,” Reynolds said in a statement on Tuesday. “I am proud to have worked with the legislature to promote learning, not discriminatory indoctrination.” 

Critical Race Theory is a concept that looks to understand racism in America and the lasting effects of slavery in the United States.

Representative Steve Holt, R-Denison, introduced the bill and says the overall purpose for it is to buck the notion that Iowa and the United States are inherently racist or sexist institutions.

Democrats who opposed the bill disagree, saying that discrimination needs to be addressed and that even if it doesn't stop diversity training from being implemented, it may cause confusion and limit important conversations.

The law is similar to an executive order issued last fall by President Trump, which has since been rescinded, that banned diversity training with race or sex-stereotyping or scapegoating at institutions that get federal funding.

The law still allows training "that fosters a workplace and learning environment that is respectful of all employees and students." 

The new law does say it should not be misconstrued to prohibit the teaching of slavery, racial oppression, or sexism in public schools. But State Senator Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, told KWWL over the phone he finds it troubling the bill even had to say that, and this is a dangerous path to go down.

The law outlines these ten "specific defined concepts" that will be prohibited:

  • That one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.
  • That the United States of America and the state of Iowa are fundamentally or systemically racist or sexist.
  • That an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
  • That an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual’s race or sex.
  • That members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex.
  • That an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by the individual’s race or sex.
  • That 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.
  • That any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of that individual’s race or sex.
  • That meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.
  • Any other form of race or sex scapegoating or any other form of race or sex stereotyping.

READ MORE: Civil rights workers, Democrats worried about bill to limit diversity trainings

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