September 29, 2021 – WCASA condemns the Assembly’s passage of AB 411 and AB 414, two harmful bills that will prohibit race or sex stereotyping in any anti-racism and anti-sexism instruction/training in K-12 schools and for state/local government employees. However, the language in this legislation is so broad that it will inherently create a chilling effect on offering anti-racism and anti-sexism instruction and training to students and state/local government employees.
Anti-racism and anti-sexism are at the heart of sexual violence prevention programming. In fact, social norms that are risk factors for sexual violence include both racism as well as beliefs that support male superiority. Anti-racist instruction and training fosters empathy, which is a protective factor for sexual violence, by helping people understand the world from another’s point of view. Similarly, anti-sexist training and instruction counters an individual’s adherence to traditional gender norms about masculinity and femininity, which are risk factors for sexual violence.
This legislation, if enacted, will cause schools and state/local governments to refrain from providing anti-racist and anti-sexist programming, which will be extremely detrimental to sexual violence prevention efforts. In testimony submitted by one of the authors of the bills, educational content that uses terms like “social and emotional learning, “cultural competence”, “systemic racism”, would apparently be banned. While racism and sexism are by their very nature uncomfortable topics, that is not a reason to avoid examining their root causes, such as internalized racial and male superiority. We call on Governor Evers to veto these bills if they reach his desk.