2022 Regular Session
By: Representatives Currie, Calvert, Mangold, Smith
AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE TEACHING RACIAL AND UNIVERSAL EQUALITY (TRUE) ACT; TO DEFINE TERMINOLOGY USED HEREIN; TO PROHIBIT THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, SCHOOLS OR SCHOOL GOVERNING AUTHORITIES FROM INCLUDING OR PROMOTING DIVISIVE CONCEPTS AS PART OF ITS CURRICULUM OR INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAM, OR ALLOWING TEACHERS OR OTHER EMPLOYEES OF THE SCHOOL TO USE SUPPLEMENTAL INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS THAT INCLUDE OR PROMOTE DIVISIVE CONCEPTS; TO PROVIDE FOR THE USE OF IMPARTIAL INSTRUCTION AND DISCUSSION OF HISTORICAL MATERIAL AND HISTORICAL OCCURRENCES THROUGH THE USE OF SUPPLEMENTAL HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS; TO PROHIBIT THE CONTENT-BASED CENSORSHIP OF AMERICAN OR MISSISSIPPI HISTORY OR HERITAGE BASED ON ANY RELIGIOUS REFERENCES CONTAINED IN SUCH DOCUMENTS, WRITINGS OR RECORDS; TO PROVIDE FOR THE WITHHOLDING OF STATE FUNDS TO ANY SCHOOL FOR ANY KNOWN VIOLATION OF THIS ACT; TO REQUIRE SCHOOL GOVERNING AUTHORITIES TO ENSURE THAT THE TRAINING PROVIDED AT EACH SCHOOL UNDER ITS JURISDICTION FOSTERS A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT AND WORKPLACE THAT IS RESPECTFUL OF ALL STUDENTS AND EMPLOYEES; TO PROVIDE THAT DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION PROGRAMS HELD AT OR SPONSORED BY SCHOOLS SHALL PROHIBIT EMPLOYEES AND STUDENTS FROM DISCRIMINATING AGAINST ANOTHER PERSON BASED ON ANY CHARACTERISTIC PROTECTED UNDER THE FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964; TO REQUIRE SCHOOL GOVERNING AUTHORITIES TO ADOPT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR THE INVESTIGATION OF ANY COMPLAINTS RELATIVE TO NONCOMPLIANCE WITH THIS ACT; TO PROVIDE FOR THE SEVERABILITY OF PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the Teaching Racial and Universal Equality (TRUE) Act.
SECTION 2. As used in this act, the following terms shall have the meanings ascribed in this section, unless context of use clearly requires otherwise:
(a) "Divisive concepts" includes any of the following, in accordance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, and this act:
(i) That one (1) race or sex is inherently superior or inferior to another race or sex;
(ii) That either the United States of America or the State of Mississippi is fundamentally, institutionally, or systemically racist or sexist;
(iii) That an individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, is inherently or systemically racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, or has negative or positive characteristics that inhere in the individual's DNA;
(iv) That an individual should be discriminated against, favored, or receive differential treatment solely or partly because of the individual's race or sex;
(v) That an individual of one (1) race or sex should be treated disrespectfully regarding that individual's race or sex;
(vi) That an individual's moral character is any way defined, described, or determined by the individual's race or sex;
(vii) That an individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, bears responsibility or is to be held accountable for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
(viii) That any individual should feel or be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological or emotional distress on account of that individual's race or sex;
(ix) That the concept of meritocracy or traits such as a strong work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by a particular race or sex to oppress another race or sex;
(x) That the concepts of capitalism, free markets, or working for a private party in exchange for wages are racist and sexist or oppress a given race or sex;
(xi) That the concepts of racial equity and gender equity, meaning the unequal treatment of individuals because of their race, sex, or national origin, should be given preference in education and advocacy over the concepts of racial equality and gender equality, meaning the equal treatment of individuals regardless of their race, sex, or national origin;
(xii) That promotes or advocates the violent overthrow of the United States government;
(xiii) That promotes or the division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class or class of people; or
(xiv) Any form of race or sex scapegoating or race or sex stereotyping.
(b) "Race or sex scapegoating" means assigning fault, blame, or bias to a race or sex or to members of a race or sex because of their race or sex or claiming that, consciously or unconsciously, and by virtue of a persons' race or sex, members of
any race are inherently racist or inherently inclined to oppress others or that members of a sex are inherently sexist or inherently inclined to oppress others. Additionally, the term "race or sex stereotyping" means ascribing character traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status, or beliefs to a race or sex or to an individual because of the individual's race or sex.
(c) "School" means any of the following:
(i) A public elementary or secondary school;
(ii) A public charter school;
(iii) A nonpublic elementary or secondary school that receives state funds;
(iv) A public postsecondary educational institution; or
(v) A nonpublic postsecondary educational institution that receives state funds.
(d) "School governing authority" means any of the following:
(i) The local school board of a public elementary or secondary school;
(ii) The governing board of a public charter school;
(iii) The board of trustees or governing board of a nonpublic elementary or secondary school that receives state funds; or
(iv) The board of trustees or governing board of a public postsecondary educational institution or nonpublic postsecondary educational institution that receives state funds.
(e) "Board" means the State Board of Education.
(f) "Training" means the teaching and education of a student or employee by means of lecturing or textbooks, audio-visual materials, or any other kind of reference materials.
SECTION 3. (1) The State Board of Education, school or school governing authority shall not include or promote divisive concepts as part of a course of instruction or in a curriculum or instructional program, or allow teachers or other employees of the school to use supplemental instructional materials that include or promote divisive concepts.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), this section does not prohibit a school from including, as part of a course of instruction or in a curriculum or instructional program, or from allowing teachers or other employees of the school to use supplemental instructional materials that include:
(a) The history of an ethnic group, as described in textbooks and instructional materials adopted in accordance with Chapter 43, Title 37, Mississippi Code of 1972;
(b) The impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history;
(c) The impartial instruction on the historical oppression of a particular group of people based on race, ethnicity, class, nationality, religion, or geographic region; or
(d) Historical documents relevant to:
(i) The national motto;
(ii) The national anthem;
(iii) The Pledge of Allegiance;
(iv) The 1890 Constitution of Mississippi;
(v) The Declaration of Independence;
(vi) The writings, speeches, documents and proclamations of the founders or presidents of the United States or the founders or governors of this state;
(vii) Opinions of the United States Supreme Court and the Mississippi Supreme Court;
(viii) Acts of the United States Congress and acts of the Mississippi Legislature; and
(ix) The United States Constitution.
(3) (a) The list of historically significant or venerated documents, writings or records set out in subsection (2)(d) shall not be construed to be exclusive, and the doctrine of ejusdem generis shall not be applied to prohibit the use, reading or posting of other such documents, writings or records.
(b) The use, reading or posting of the types of documents, writings and records authorized by this section shall be undertaken for educational purposes only and shall not be used to promote or establish any religion or religious belief.
(c) There shall be no content-based censorship of American or Mississippi history or heritage based on any religious references contained in such documents, writings or records.
(d) Each student shall be taught the documents, writings or records set out in subsection (2)(d).
(e) The documents, writings or records set out in subsection (2)(d) shall be taught at an age appropriate time prior to graduation from high school as determined by the State Board of Education.
(4) If it is determined that a school knowingly violated this section, then the Legislature shall withhold the appropriation of state funds to the appropriate school governing authority until the school provides evidence to the State Board of Education, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning or the Mississippi Community College Board that the school is no longer in violation of this section.
SECTION 4. (1) Each school governing authority shall ensure the following:
(a) The training provided at each school under its jurisdiction shall foster a learning environment and workplace that is respectful of all students and employees; and
(b) No training that teaches, advocates, acts upon, or promotes divisive concepts shall be provided to students or employees.
(2) The provisions of subsection (1) of this section apply to any training provided, regardless of whether it is provided by an employee of the school or a nonemployee on a contract or volunteer basis.
SECTION 5. Diversity and inclusion programs held at schools or sponsored by schools shall prohibit employees and students from discriminating against another person based on color, race, ethnicity, sex, political ideology, or any other characteristic
protected under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and applicable state law.
SECTION 6. (1) Each school governing authority shall adopt policies and procedures for the investigation of any complaints relative to noncompliance with this act.
(2) The policies and procedures, at a minimum, shall provide, upon a determination that a violation has been committed, for an appropriate remedy by means of reprimand, suspension, or termination.
SECTION 7. Nothing in this act shall be construed to do any of the following:
(a) Inhibit or violate the first amendment rights of students or employees or undermine intellectual freedom and freedom of expression;
(b) Prevent a school from promoting racial, cultural, ethnic, intellectual, or academic diversity or inclusiveness if such efforts are consistent with the provisions of this act;
(c) Prohibit discussion of divisive concepts as part of a larger course of academic instruction;
(d) Prevent individuals providing training from responding to questions regarding divisive concepts raised by students or employees; or
(e) Create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any party against the State of Mississippi, its departments, agencies, or entities or its officers, employees, or agents or against any other person.
SECTION 8. If any section of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, then the invalidity of one (1) section does not affect other sections or applications of this act, that can be given effect without the invalid section or application, and to that end, the sections of this act are severable.
SECTION 9. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2022.