Friday, May 14, 2021

Utah School Offers White Parents Choice to Excuse Children From Black History Month Lessons

*Parents who wanted their children to opt-out of learning the Black History Month curriculum at a Utah charter school have reportedly dropped their requests.

Black History Month kicked off last week at Maria Montessori Academy in North Ogden, but some parents in the predominantly White community didn’t want their children to participate. So they demanded that the school allow their kids to “opt out,” per MSN. The school (which reportedly has only three Black students) “reluctantly” allowed them to do so.

But after the story went viral following a local news report — catching the attention of the NAACP, the parents have dropped their request, the Standard-Examiner reported.

“We regret that after receiving requests, an opt-out form was sent out concerning activities planned during this month of celebration,” said a statement from Academy Director Micah Hirokawa and the school’s board of directors.

“We are grateful that families that initially had questions and concerns have willingly come to the table to resolve any differences and at this time no families are opting out of our planned activities and we have removed this option,” the statement said.

READ MORE: Patti LaBelle, Verdine White Part of Rock Hall’s Black History Month Screening of ‘Mr. Soul’ (Trailer)

After the school’s initial decision to allow the students to “opt-out,” community leaders were quick to respond.

I strongly believe we cannot learn American history without learning Black history,” Rep. Blake Moore, a Republican whose district includes North Ogden, said in a statement. “Imagine if we had to teach Utah history without highlighting the persecution of early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who led the migration west.”

Facing the backlash, the school announced that all students will be participating in Black History Month activities. 

According to KSL, the school sent all parents a document allowing them to request that their kids be excused from learning about Black American history.  

“If they want to opt out, then perhaps the best thing they should do is homeschool their children,” Salt Lake City NAACP President Jeanetta Williams. She noted that the parents were “uncomfortable about talking about race and race relationships.”

The school was also called out for agreeing with the parents’ objections in the first place.

“While this decision was recently reversed, we find its very consideration troubling,” the Ogden NAACP said in a statement. “Given the current tumultuous state of race relations in our country, it is now more vital than ever that children are given ample opportunities to learn the authentic history of our nation, not sanitized, ‘feel good’ versions.”

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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