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State lawmakers debate exactly what an "inherently divisive concept" is

Members of the General Assembly are divided on what constitutes being divisive.

On the campaign trail, Glenn Youngkin often talked about his Day One agenda. Part of that agenda is banning what he calls "inherently divisive concepts" from the classroom. But now that agenda is hitting the cold, hard reality of a Senate controlled by Democrats. This is how the governor's bill was received in a subcommittee chaired by Senator Ghazala Hashmi, who is questioning Senator Jenn Kiggans about the governor's bill.

"I have yet to hear any definition of what an inherently divisive concept might mean in the context of the curricula that is available to our K-12 students. I want to give you an just an opportunity to define it further," Hashmi asked.

“I would say it's just like it sounds, anything that's dividing and making one group think they're superior to the other, and I think that's what the Civil Rights Act is probably more definition,” Kiggans replied.

The text of the bill defines an inherently divisive concept as any idea in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Breanna Diaz of the ACLU says that’s not really workable.

“The criteria are so open to interpretation that they could be interpreted to forbid teachers from accurately teaching history," says Diaz.

As long as Democrats control the Senate, this part of the governor's Day One Agenda might not get all that far.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.