During the week of the 2020 presidential election, the official Facebook page of the Oklahoma State Department of Education encouraged teachers to use materials produced by an organization that critics say has actively worked to brand orthodox Christians and mainstream conservative organizations as “hate groups.”
On Nov. 3, 2020, the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) directed school officials to a post from the “Teaching Tolerance” page (since renamed “Learning for Justice”) maintained by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The accompanying message declared, “As polarization, political intimidation and tensions escalate before and after the election, schools will face challenges. This resource can help you proactively consider what to do in the event of hate incidents, biased speech or polarized discussions.”
The link takes citizens to a “school climate resources” page provided by the SPLC.
One national expert on the SPLC says Oklahoma parents should be wary of schools using that organization’s materials.
“I definitely recommend parents and concerned citizens to reach out and let the government know just what the SPLC is,” said Tyler O’Neil, senior editor of PJ Media and author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “As I wrote, it’s a very corrupt organization that weaponizes its history as a civil rights group. It still does some good work, but it weaponizes its history going after the KKK to brand mainstream conservative and Christian organizations as hate groups and get them blacklisted.”
O’Neil said the Teaching Tolerance program is used by the SPLC as an “opportunity to spread far-left propaganda.”
“They’ve championed ‘micro-aggressions’ for kids as young as first grade. They’ve pushed transgender ideology and gender confusion for, essentially, all ages—I believe, going back to pre-K,” O’Neil said. “They’ve intentionally interpreted current events and history in a way that presses liberal activism on children in the name of teaching tolerance.”
One SPLC document provided to educators on the resources page, “Let’s Talk,” is described as a guide that will help teachers have “critical conversations” with students.
“It’s important to remember that students want to talk about these issues,” the guide states. “They recognize the injustice inherent in racism, gender bias, ableism, anti-immigrant sentiment, religious and anti-LGBTQ bias and more—and they see these prejudices at work in the world every day.”
The “Let’s Talk” guide informs teachers that common topics for “critical conversations” include body type/sizeism; gender identity/gender discrimination; transphobia; anti-Semitism, Islamophobia “and other religious prejudice”; sexual orientation/homophobia; and more.