Tennessee school district labels whites, Christians and ‘able-bodied’ as privileged, training documents reveal

A training on “cultural competency” offered by a Tennessee school district labels whites, Christians and the “able-bodied” as privileged, while classifying people of color, the…

A training on “cultural competency” offered by a Tennessee school district labels whites, Christians and the “able-bodied” as privileged, while classifying people of color, the “polyamorous” and people with disabilities as oppressed.

The presentation, titled “The World Needs More Purple People,” was offered in July by the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) during its “ENGAGE23” professional learning conference for teachers and staff. The training documents were obtained from the district via a public records request made by Parents Defending Education (PDE), Fox News reports

The documents indicate the purpose of the training was to promote “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” as a means of connecting with scholars. Its stated objective was for teachers and staff to learn how to “respond appropriately when encountering racial and cultural bias, helping those around me feel seen and heard.” 

The training defines “purple” people as those who “ask really great questions” and “bring their family, friends, and communities together” and who “speak up for what’s right.” 

It goes on to teach the difference between “cultural competency” and “cultural humility.” It claims competency is knowing one’s own values, how they differ from others’ and using this knowledge in the classroom – while humility is understanding how the expression of one’s own values impacts others. 

For some reason, the written training capitalizes Cultural Humility, while leaving cultural competency lowercase. 

The training also teaches that language can cause “trauma” and says “assuming commonalities” and “negating differences” between people are “things to avoid.” Examples of phrases it says teachers should avoid include “make this for your mommy,” “take this to your mommy,” “how did you celebrate Christmas?” and “I don’t see color.” 

“When a teacher training teaches that saying the words ‘mommy’ and ‘Christmas’ can cause trauma, we know we are dealing with unserious people,” Erika Sanzi, PDE’s director of outreach said. “But these unserious people wield great power, and their attempt to indoctrinate teachers into the repugnant belief that being white or male or heterosexual or Christian or able-bodied or an adult makes you an oppressor is destructive and intellectually bankrupt. 

“If it wasn’t so sinister, it would be comical that K-12 teachers are being taught that polyamorous people are oppressed. This is all based on critical theory, and it has no place in our schools.” 

In perhaps their most blatant example of proselytizing, the training materials include the following chart, which blanketly equates a person’s “social identity” to a “system of oppression.” 

It lists so-called “privilege” statuses such as being white, “able-bodied,” Christian, male, heterosexual, middle class or a young adult, while categorizing a “person of color,” disabled, female, LGBTQ, polyamorous, Muslim, working class or adolescent as oppressed.  

The training provides teachers a reading list with such resources such as “Safe Space Kit: Guide to Being an Ally to LGBT Students,” which some teachers may find objectionable, from an organization called GLSEN. 

According to its website, GLSEN is dedicated to creating resources to assist educators in “affirming” LGBTQ students in schools throughout the country. 

A CMCSS spokesperson defended the training in a statement, noting among other things that it was voluntary: 

“The ENGAGE conference has a mix of content developed by the district and content developed independently by educators. 

“Educators are not required to attend, and they select their own sessions. Since this presentation was developed independently by educators and not developed or delivered by the District, I do not have any additional information on the presentation. CMCSS is in compliance with state law and does not require implicit bias training for employees.”