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Oregon school teaches kids 'antiracist' curriculum on why 'being color blind is not the best choice'

FOX News logo FOX News 6/30/2022 Hannah Grossman
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EXCLUSIVE – An Oregon elementary school taught kids that they should not be "color blind" to the race of their peers, according to course materials. 

Errol Hassell Elementary in Beaverton taught a 21-day antiracist curriculum as part of a school-wide initiative for the first days of January 2022. The curriculum instructed elementary children to describe their race, informed them about microaggressions and systemic racism.

"This challenge is for all of us, staff and students," the curriculum said. "Each day, for the first 21 school days of 2022, we will gather as a school and learn about social justice together."

Teachers were also instructed that if a child asked a question that made them feel uncomfortable, they should "write them down" and a staff member would come in and address them.

In discussion questions they were asked, "Why is being color blind not the best choice?" and "What are some invisible ways that racism shows up in our lives?"

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On the first day, students were asked to "Think of one or two words that describe the color of your skin" and "draw or paint a self-portrait."

However, the curriculum cautioned that kids had to "ask… permission" and had to use "the appropriate colors."

"You may include another other person in your picture, but make sure to ask their permission and use the appropriate colors to show the of shade their skin," the curriculum said. 

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Another day of the challenge focused on "defining microaggressions" and addressed "how to respond" when another kid microaggresses them. The curriculum said that kids should "talk to a grown up about it."

"Microaggressions are defined as every day, subtle, intentional or unintentional interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups," the curriculum said. "These can be comments, interactions, body language or other behaviors that make a person or group of people feel less than another person or group."

Examples of microaggressions, according to the curriculum, included criticizing foods from other cultures, "commenting on someone's hair," comparing skin tones, and pointing out "attire such as hijab, yamakas, hoodies and more."

Probing into the students' identities, the curriculum asked: 

The curriculum also suggests that children should become activists. "How can you use your voice to bring about change? How can you be an activist?" it said. The suggestions included making signs and marching in protest.  

"Enough is Enough! We can take actions to make our community a better place by us all. Use your voice to speak up and out. Together we can Heal Our World but we have to get into good trouble," the curriculum said. 

The students were also shown clips about racism, such as "A Kid Asks About Systemic Racism."

The school tried to block a parent named Jeff Myers' questions about the materials. The father spoke with Fox News Digital and said he was concerned where the program would go. Myers said his daughter was instructed to remain outside the classroom for three mornings while the lessons were being taught. 

"Kids coming late to school would pass by her and stare, wondering if she was out there for being in trouble. My daughter was also upset with me, as she was told I asked for it," Myers said. "The district had this principal's back and supported all the decisions she made, including removing my daughter without our knowledge or consent. She never even bothered apologizing to my daughter or the teacher who she stuck in the middle of this."

The principal, Cynthia Lam Moffett, resigned Friday, according to the parent.

The curricula also contained the district's vision statement which stated that, "Beaverton School District owns that our student outcomes currently point to our part in perpetuating institutional racism, and we commit to actions that address the current culture that is leading to these outcomes."

It continued, "We will work to dismantle policies and systems that perpetuate institutional racism and barriers to education and other school-related activities… Eliminating racism and all forms of bias is fundamental to our work — not just a part of our work. We commit to removing racism, white supremacy, hate speech and all forms of bigotry from our schools and communities."

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As part of its vision, the Beaverton School District provided ongoing "antiracist education to every staff member" and promotes "equitable policies, structures and practices for BIPOC students."

Fox News Digital reached out to administrators at the school as well as in the district but did not immediately receive a response. 

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