Missouri teachers sue district for 'oppression matrix' antiracist training, compelled speech

Second lawsuit this summer on behalf of Midwest educators by Southeastern Legal Foundation.

Updated: August 18, 2021 - 6:26pm

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Oppression Matrix in Springfield Public Schools equity training
Oppression Matrix in Springfield Public Schools equity training
Southeastern Legal Foundation lawsuit

A Missouri school district forces employees "to affirm views they do not support, to disclose personal details that they wish to keep private, and to self-censor on matters of public interest," in the pursuit of becoming "anti-racist educators," according to a lawsuit filed by two teachers Wednesday.

Brooke Henderson and Jennifer Lumley allege that Springfield Public Schools requires them to undergo "equity training" that includes discussing their place on an "oppression matrix" and advocating for "changes in political, economic, and social life."

The First Amendment lawsuit claims employees are in a "no-win situation" because they are told during programming that "white silence" is white supremacy, yet if they share their honest views against race essentialism, they will be "asked to leave."

The training at issue was exposed earlier this year by the Manhattan Institute's Christopher Rufo. The district told Fox News at the time the training "encourages participants to consider how their individual journey may differ from the experiences of others" and that media coverage included "incorrect and/or incomplete information, without appropriate context."

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Oppression Matrix in Springfield Public Schools equity training
Oppression Matrix in Springfield Public Schools equity training
Southeastern Legal Foundation lawsuit

It's the second Southeastern Legal Foundation lawsuit on behalf of Midwest educators this summer. Stacy Deemar accused a suburban Chicago school district of active racial segregation and making children read a book that shows a devil figure offering a "contract binding you to WHITENESS."

Teachers and parents across the country have publicly challenged their districts' race-focused training and teaching in recent months, from school board meetings to litigation and public records requests.

Among them: Virginia teacher Laura Morris quit her job in front of Loudoun County Public Schools board members in protest of its equity trainings and "highly politicized agendas."

Rhode Island parent Nicole Solas got herself sued by teachers unions for seeking public records on curriculum and policies related to critical race theory, antiracism, gender theory and children's sexuality.