After its passage earlier this year, opponents of the state’s Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards (CRTLS) pledged to find a way to overturn the standards or stop them from taking effect. That effort began when Ralph Rivera, a lobbyist for Illinois Right to Life Action and the Pro-Family Alliance, told a House legislative committee the organizations plan to file a legal challenge against the standards.
Capitol News Illinois reported Rivera announced 30 public school teachers had signed on to a coming suit questioning the constitutionality of the standards. “They feel that that would be compelled speech,” said Rivera. “This would threaten their right to free exercise of religion or conscience.”
The suit won’t be filed until 2025, when the standards will be required of new teachers to receive teaching certification in Illinois.
The Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards (CRTLS) touch on issues such as sexual orientation, gender identity, and race-based privilege in what supporters call an effort to encourage support for diversity in school age children. Critics believe the standards could infringe on teachers’ First Amendment rights.
The matter came up during a discussion of SB 814, which involves teacher and principal mentoring programs. Rivera told the committee SB 814 was a problem because it would require new teachers prior to 2025 to “align themselves with this rule, and there’s a concern that they can’t do that.”
The General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) voted Feb. 17 to approve the controversial teaching standards. At the meeting, JCAR members acknowledged each receiving hundreds of e-mails and voice mails from constituents who opposed the standards.