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Oregon teachers rally for honest lessons about race

Speakers called out lawmakers in other states who are working to ban certain lessons about sexism, homophobia, sexuality, and racial discrimination.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Some teachers and students rallied in Portland Saturday in support of historically accurate lessons that take real instances of oppression and discrimination into account.

"We're teaching kids to be critical thinkers," said co-organizer David Scholten, a fifth grade teacher in Portland.

The group gathered at Friendship Circle near the Japanese American Historical Plaza, chanting: "teach the truth!"

Speakers called out lawmakers in other states who are working to ban certain lessons about sexism, homophobia, sexuality and racial discrimination.

"Racism is a complex issue, it requires digging, it requires an inquisitive mind," Scholten said. "How do we discover a deeper truth and bring it to our kids, right?"

The idea at the rally was not to gloss over ugly truths, but rather contextualize them and explain how they have a lasting impact on people today.

Critical Race Theory is an idea being debated across the country, which takes this approach. It details how racism bleeds into many subjects and areas of society, with certain groups historically denied opportunities.

A number of states have moved to make this approach harder or against the law. Idaho's governor signed a law this year, limiting teachers from talking about race and gender.

"I think what the opposition feels is that if we don't talk about race and racism, it'll go away," Scholten said. "[But] talking about racism is the way to heal the division. If we can't diagnose the disease and really understand how it came about, there's no way to heal from it."

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