Law & Principles
Ray Carter | November 29, 2022
Nonprofit creates fake quote to attack anti-CRT law
A nonprofit organization is offering to pay for the legal defense of teachers accused of violating a law that bans teaching children that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.”
Even as the group touts the need for legal expertise, its website misstates the actual language of the law through a fake quote.
Oklahoma Appleseed describes its Freedom to Teach Fund as “a unique account that can be tapped for providing Oklahoma public school teachers with legal assistance.”
The organization declares that “wars” are “happening over ideas and how ideas are taught” and claims that “an alarming trend of moving national political fights inside our classrooms and discussion halls” is now “preventing critical learning and discussion from taking place.”
“A significant contributor to this phenomenon was the passage of HB 1775, which prevents teachers from ‘making students uncomfortable’ based on their race or sex,” the website for Oklahoma Appleseed’s Freedom to Teach Fund states.
Because of the law, the group declares, “State officials, parents, and administrators are threatening and harassing teachers just for teaching and protecting vulnerable students.”
However, the quoted phrase—“making students uncomfortable”—does not exist in the law.
House Bill 1775, which was signed into law in 2021, made it illegal to teach Oklahoma students that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,” that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” and other concepts broadly associated with Critical Race Theory.
HB 1775 also states that teachers cannot teach that “any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.”
State Sen. David Bullard, a Durant Republican and former public-school teacher who authored HB 1775, has previously said, “That section says you cannot shame a child because of their sex or their race. It ought to tell us a lot that they think in order to teach history that they have to shame a child because of their race or their sex.”
In addition to misstating the content of the law, Oklahoma Appleseed also omits a significant amount of context regarding the one teacher it cites as an example of someone impacted by HB 1775.
Immediately after denouncing HB 1775, the Oklahoma Appleseed website declares that the “issue rose to a fever pitch when, during the 2022 midterm elections, candidate for State Superintendent Ryan Walters targeted a Norman public school teacher for sharing access to free library books.”
That language is an apparent reference to former Norman High School English teacher Summer Boismier, who resigned her job earlier this year after directing her students to books that have been criticized as pornographic. Walters called for Boismier’s certificate to be revoked in part because her efforts involved helping students evade restrictions on library materials without parental knowledge.
While that incident was unrelated to HB 1775, Boismier later indicated she left her position at Norman because she would not comply with the state law. In an interview with Fox-affiliate KOKH, Boismier called HB 1775 “an impossible to follow law.”
“I am a walking HB 1775 violation,” Boismier told KOKH.
Although Boismier sought publicity and gave interviews regarding both the library incident and her opposition to HB 1775, Oklahoma Appleseed implied that Walters’ criticism is responsible for Boismier having been “attacked on the internet and in the press.”
So far, few teachers have been found to have directly violated HB 1775, although some have complained that the law restricts what they can tell students.
In the Mustang district, a parent filed a complaint after a teacher subjected students to a “Privilege Walk” exercise based on the concept of “White Privilege.” During the exercise, students were asked to step forward if they believed they fit various descriptions, such as, “Can you walk in a store without anyone thinking you’re about to steal?” and, “When walking alone at night, do you have to worry about someone feeling threatened by you?” Video of the exercise showed one student asked, “Why are all of these questions about white race?”
The State Board of Education sanctioned Mustang for the violation.
State Sen. Mary Boren, D-Norman, is listed as a member of Oklahoma Appleseed’s Volunteer Advisory Committee.
When the Senate debated HB 1775 in 2021, Boren posed the following question: “Would it be appropriate for a teacher to encourage a young man to open a door for a young woman?” Boren suggested that action would violate the bill’s language regarding gender-blind treatment.
To date, no teacher has been sanctioned under HB 1775 for encouraging male students to hold the door for female students.
In its solicitation for donations to the Freedom to Teach Fund, Oklahoma Appleseed declares, “You could change the life of a teacher today by helping them keep their teaching certificate.”
Director, Center for Independent Journalism
Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.