A letter from an Indiana elementary school suggesting parents can have their children opt out of lessons regarding Black History Month resulted in backlash on social media.
As reported by NBC affiliate WTHR, the letter was sent out by Benjamin White, a guidance counselor at Sprunica Elementary School in Brown County, Indiana.
The letter in question was subsequently shared on Twitter.
A public school in Indiana is giving parents the option to opt their children out of learning about Black History Month.pic.twitter.com/L1QxmH9lRm— Kolleen (@Kolleen) 1644969649
The letter opened with Brown explaining theg lesson plan.
"In honor of Black history month and Valentine's Day, I will be coming around and teaching lessons relating to equity, caring and understanding differences."
"Studies show that students who have a greater understanding of diversity in the classroom and outside world will demonstrate improved learning outcomes such as improved grades, better peer relationships and greater career success later on."
"These lessons can provide a great impact on students and help facilitate a better learning environment for all."
But things took an unsettling turn in the letter's final paragraph, when parents were given the option to "opt [their] child out" from receiving these lessons.
The idea studies regarding diversity, equity and Black History month could be optional was met with a derision on Twitter.
So, what, are they going to take the kids whose parents opt out to a different classroom run by the Vice Principal and show them "Birth of a Nation"?https://twitter.com/littlewhitty/status/1493737091854999552?s=20&t=GFFACmwMk0k2tdFtZ7Q3cg\u00a0\u2026— XLProfessor (@XLProfessor) 1645005590
Allegedly from a Spurnica Elementary School parent in Brown County, IN. We\u2019ve got to get the teaching of Black history in state statute. It shouldn\u2019t be optional.pic.twitter.com/wMPB9pecir— Marshawn Wolley (@Marshawn Wolley) 1645030142
So how do you teach American History and leave out Black History?\n\nJust throw the whole school away.\n\nIndiana School Makes Black History Month Optional Following CRT Debates | Black America Webhttps://blackamericaweb.com/2022/02/16/indiana-school-makes-black-history-month-optional-critical-race-theory/\u00a0\u2026— Coolmofo (@Coolmofo) 1645051757
Happy Black History Month: learning optional https://twitter.com/littlewhitty/status/1493737091854999552\u00a0\u2026— MXCHAEL SHABAZZ (@MXCHAEL SHABAZZ) 1645030064
Parents can opt their students out of learning about American History (Black History Month is US History)? \n\nAnd when did caring and understanding differences became optional educational experience?https://twitter.com/littlewhitty/status/1493737091854999552\u00a0\u2026— \ud83d\uddfdlatinasoccermom \ud83c\uddf5\ud83c\uddf7\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8\ud83d\udcda (@\ud83d\uddfdlatinasoccermom \ud83c\uddf5\ud83c\uddf7\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8\ud83d\udcda) 1645024053
#BlackHistoryMonth and Black American history period will eventually be erased. White people swore up and down our history wasn\u2019t being erased with their crt lies, yet it\u2019s now optional to learn it. It\u2019s sick AF. Especially since it\u2019s not optional to learn white washed LIES.https://twitter.com/littlewhitty/status/1493737091854999552\u00a0\u2026— EvaMae (@EvaMae) 1644982304
Making the stories and people and importance of #BlackHistoryMonth optional is what led to #BlackHistoryMonth in the first place.https://twitter.com/littlewhitty/status/1493737091854999552\u00a0\u2026— J. Spenser Darden, M.A. (@J. Spenser Darden, M.A.) 1645008269
Can Black parents opt their kids out of Whitewash History month? That month none of the genocide of the Native Americans will be mentioned and slavery will be an optional reading assignment for those interested in.— Larry Barnowsky (@Larry Barnowsky) 1645107941
According to data from the Indiana Department of Education, 97% of the Sprunica Elementary's 240 students are White, 1.7% Latino, 0.4% multiracial and 0.8% are Indigenous.
According to the study, the school currently has zero Black students.
WTHR made attempts to reach Benjamin White, but instead found themselves being referred to Emily Tracy, superintendent of the Brown County Schools.
After several unreturned messages Tracy sent out a letter to parents, teachers and staff regarding White's earlier letter and released the following statement:
"Our district supports teaching about the facts in our history including historical injustices."
"We are and will continue to be committed to having compassion for all and supporting an education community that will allow all students, staff, families and community members the opportunity to feel welcome."
"We do not allow students and parents to opt out of required curriculum, including instruction on social studies and histories."
"Any decision related to parental consent and curriculum determinations are made in accordance with the law."
"We are looking into the matter to determine the justification for the language included in the letter."
"We will respond to any parental concerns on an individualized basis."
No mention was made if White will be facing any disciplinary action.
The letter went viral on social media just as a bill was placed before the Indiana Senate Education Committee which would restrict what can and can not be taught in a classroom regarding race, politics and history.
Allowing parents to have their children opt out of lessons was an element of the bill, but was removed before being presented to the committee.
The letter also came at a time when more and more states are implementing controversial restrictions on what teachers can and can not teach when it comes to race and equality.