Major pieces of legislation moved through the South Carolina House with lots of contentious debate over issues like Critical Race Theory and transgender participation in women’s competitive sports. 

The debate over the teaching of Critical Race Theory to elementary and high school students was front and center in the House Chamber for several days during April. We spent half of one week debating various aspects and amendments to the legislation (H.5183) known as the “Transparency and Integrity in Education Act.”  The House voted 73-40 to give the bill a second reading. The legislation will be advanced forward to the Senate.

The bill calls for in-school instruction to be non-biased while including a broad scope of history – “both inspirational and shameful.” The bill requires lessons in SC public schools to be impartial and age appropriate. It requires teachers to teach facts without bias. And, it also provides parents with a measure of transparency by requiring schools to post online the textbooks used and a general overview of topics for each course.

There are several prohibited concepts that may not be included or promoted in a course or in instructional material. Three of the key ones are:

• That one race, sex, ethnicity, religion, color or national origin is inherently superior to another race, sex, ethnicity, religion, color or national origin.

• That the moral character of an individual is determined by the race, sex, ethnicity, religion, color or national origin of the individual.

• That an individual, by virtue of the race or sex of the individual, bears no responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, sex, ethnicity, religion, color or national origin.

Rep. Rita Allison, Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee, asserts that the bill does not ban the teaching of controversial subjects and creates a uniform system complaint process to protect educators.

The House voted 82-28 to pass the Save Women’s Sports Act (H.4608) and send it to the Senate, despite significant efforts by special interest groups to derail the legislation.

Proponents voted to outlaw the participation of biological males (who self-identify as females) in women’s sports throughout grades K-12 as well as public colleges.

The vote came after hours of floor debate that included hundreds of amendments as well as a tornado warning that sent us lawmakers into the basement. The bill requires athletes may participate only on teams that correspond with the gender on their birth certificates.

With time running out on this session, the GOP-led Senate has finally taken up the election reform bill that was unanimously passed in the House over a month ago. The bill H.4919 requires every county to offer two weeks of in-person early voting, and voters would not need a reason or excuse to vote early in person as they do now. People who vote absentee by mail would still need a reason. It is hoped that there will be no delays by the Senate.

Jeff Bradley is the representative for District 123 in the State House of Representatives.