Parents and students in Virginia's Albemarle County have sued the county school board and the district leadership, claiming they have been "indoctrinating" students with critical race theory, thus violating the rights of parents and students under the commonwealth's constitution.
"A public school should not, and in this case under the law cannot, indoctrinate kids in a destructive, race-based ideology," Ryan Bangert, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the organization representing the parents, told Fox News Digital in an interview Thursday.
The kids are "being told that they are defined by their race and nothing else," Bangert said. "They're being told that they fit into groups of oppressors or groups of subordinate oppressed based entirely on their race and nothing else, that their success in life or their lack of success in life will be determined by their race."
"They're being told that … their success in life or their lack of success in life will be determined by their race."
"Those are pernicious ideas that directly contradict what these students are told by their parents," the lawyer added. He claimed that Albemarle Public Schools is "implementing a destructive and harmful ideology and embedding it in the school’s curriculum."
In the lawsuit, C.I. v. Albemarle County School Board, nine parents and their children claim that the curriculum based on critical race theory (CRT) violates Virginia law and the Virginia Constitution.
The lawsuit documents various aspects of an "Anti-Racist Policy" pushing CRT – a framework that involves deconstructing aspects of society to discover systemic racism beneath the surface. The school district launched a pilot program during the 2020-2021 school year and one of the students in the lawsuit took part in it. The district has said it plans to expand the program across school levels.
"The program identifies as aspects of racism such things as ‘colorblindness,’ claiming we live in a ‘post racial society,’ asserting that ‘[i]t doesn’t matter who you vote for,’ and ‘claiming reverse discrimination,’" the lawsuit notes. A diagram depicting "Active/Covert Racism" and "Omissions/Passive Racism" describes "Denial of White Privilege" and "Self-Appointed ’White Ally'" as forms of passive racism.
Another diagram claims that "communication is a racialized tool," contrasting "White Talk" with "Color Commentary."
"In short, the program instructs white students that if they fail to adopt and forcefully advance a radical ideological political program, they are racist, regardless of whether they individually harbor any racial animus or bias," the lawsuit states.
"The policy is labeled an anti-racism policy, but in fact what the policy does is it incorporates critical theory ideology that promotes race-based division and race-based resentment," Bangert, the ADF lawyer, told Fox News Digital. "It redefines the concept of racism to include having opinions that don’t align with the race-based indoctrination program of the policy and the curriculum. Even worse, it labels dissent from that program as racist."
"If students disagree with the ideology laid out in this program, they will be labeled racists," Bangert added.
"If students disagree with the ideology laid out in this program, they will be labeled racists."
The parents and students suing the school board claim that the CRT "indoctrination" violates: (1) their right to freedom from governmental discrimination, (2) their right to freedom of speech under the Virginia Constitution through viewpoint discrimination, (3) their right to freedom of speech under the Virginia Constitution through compelled speech, (4) their right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of religion, (5) their right to due process under the Virginia Constitution, and (6) their parental rights under the Virginia Constitution, Virginia Code, and Virginia Common Law.
Court declaration sought
The lawsuit seeks a court declaration against the CRT curriculum, affirming each of these counts against the school board and district. For instance, the plaintiffs ask the court to declare that when school officials "inculcate racial stereotypes and treat students differently based on race, that constitutes unconstitutional racial discrimination," and that "demeaning, punishing, and threatening to punish students for articulating dissenting or differing viewpoints is unlawful viewpoint discrimination."
The lawsuit seeks a "preliminary and permanent injunction" restraining the school board and school district officials from pushing the CRT curriculum, and permitting parents to opt-out their children. It also seeks compensatory damages, nominal damages, and attorney's fees.
"This is a very diverse group of parents," Bangert told Fox News. One student is half White/Native American and half Black. One family is Catholic, one family is Protestant, one family immigrated from Panama. "They're united in their belief that children are not defined by their race," Bangert said.
School districts often claim that curricula do not contain CRT because they define CRT as a college-level class, yet parents across the country have spoken out against CRT in school curricula and in teacher trainings.
Glenn Youngkin, the commonwealth's Republican governor-elect, defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, last month after pledging to ban CRT from Virginia schools.
Neither the Albemarle County School Board nor the school district responded to Fox News Digital's request for comment by press time.