#TeachTruth Media Guide

This Teach Truth Media Guide is for anyone seeking to communicate with the media about the dangers of anti-history education legislation and book bans, the importance of teaching truthfully, and the rights of LGBTQ+ students.

While this guide was designed for the Teach Truth Days of Action, it can be referenced all year. There are also sample releases for the media and recommendations for media communications.


Key Statements FAQs

Media Engagement Media Outreach

Additional Resources


Key Statements

Here are key talking points. In each case, we have included a one liner for social media and interviews, followed by additional details for longer documents or conversations. Also read the FAQs.


IF YOU SAY ONE THING: #TeachTruth is a commitment by educators to teach full and accurate U.S. history and current events, and to affirm the humanity of all students and staff. It is call to raise awareness of the dangers of lying to students about the existence and persistence of structural and systemic racism, and all forms of oppression. 


    • Legislation has been introduced in more than 44 states that would ban teaching the truth about the role of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and oppression throughout U.S. history. Learn about the bills here.
    • Efforts to ban the teaching of the truth go beyond statehouses, with NBC News tallying at least 165 local and national groups organizing to disrupt social justice education by swarming school board meetings, inundating districts with time-consuming public records requests, and filing lawsuits alleging discrimination against white students (NBC News). 
    • Ignoring historical facts will maintain today’s systems of oppression, rather than help us create a more just and equitable world. 
    • Being able to name, identify, and understand structures and systems of oppression threatens the status quo. When we know about injustice, we can mobilize and organize against it.
    • LGBTQ+ rights are human rights. LGBTQ+ students and staff are in every school and they deserve to not only be safe, but welcomed, supported, and have their identities reflected in the curriculum.
    • Educators are fighting back by signing a pledge Teach Truth, and gathering at historical sites during our Day of Action to raise public awareness about the danger of these bills. 
    • We refuse to return to the hysteria and paranoia of the McCarthy era, and we won’t let them use race, gender, and sexuality to divide and conquer us.
    • This is a national call. Although bills and budget resolutions are being proposed in specific states, the chilling effect on teaching truth is a threat to all of us everywhere. 


IF YOU SAY ONE THING: Knowledge can help create a more just society. When young people study the roots of injustice, they can address those root causes and shape a better future for everyone.


    • To teach the history of injustice in the United States is also an opportunity to teach the history of movements to end it. These movements have always been multiracial, multiethnic, and built across lines of gender and class. Understanding this can be an incredible and powerful source of unity for all students. 
    • When we know the truth about our past, we understand our present, and see opportunities to build a different future.
    • Not acknowledging the country’s actual history, including racism and other oppression, is deception, not education. Teaching young people about centuries of resistance to that oppression is empowering.
    • The right-wing legislation would deny students climate literacy. Racial inequality — and the struggle against it — is at the heart of the climate crisis.
    • Those invested in upholding structures of systemic racism and other forms of oppression fear the growing movement to teach truth — and are doing all they can to stop it. They know that if young people learn the truth about our past and our present, they will be informed and even inspired to work to change systems of oppression moving forward. 
    • #TeachTruth is a grassroots movement, a national campaign to promote accuracy in education.

Call to Action

IF YOU SAY ONE THING: Defend a truthful education and LGBTQ+ rights.


    • TO EDUCATORS: Educators, sign the Pledge to Teach Truth and continue to teach truthfully
    • TO PARENTS: Support teachers who Teach Truth and testify how teaching the truth has inspired their children. 
    • TO ALLIES AND SUPPORTERS: Support young people in becoming critical thinkers. Show solidarity with educators. 
    • TO LEGISLATORS: Tell your legislators: we do not accept bills that will censor educators, ban books, and harm LGBTQ+ students.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The following FAQs can be used to prepare for interviews and to inform your talking points, content, and conversations regarding the #TeachTruth campaign.

Based on interviews to date, the questions may address critical race theory (CRT), the language of the bills, LGBTQ+ identity, school curriculum, book bans, and more. We provide suggested responses and strategies to help you keep the focus on your teaching and why it matters. 

Reporters may want to focus on critical race theory; Amanda Marcotte explains in Salon why the right wing has latched on to that term:

It is important to note that the fabricated fury over “critical race theory” is a cleverly constructed right-wing troll. Liberals who want to respond with a quick, easily digested rebuttal are instead boxed into a frustrating corner. Because pointing out that critical race theory is not being taught in public schools is a trap, as it could be construed to imply that there’s something wrong with critical race theory. And any straightforward defense of critical race theory implies that schoolchildren are somehow expected to understand graduate school-level academic theories. But in fact, the real issue at hand is that conservatives don’t want white kids to learn even the most basic truths about American history.  

When reporters come out of the gate with critical race theory, it’s playing the opposition’s game, which we don’t have to do. We recommend that when possible, pivot away from the question as it obscures what is at the heart of the legislation being introduced.

In order to pivot, you can say things like, “I am happy to discuss that with you but first let me address why we are protesting this legislation.” If people are intent on you specifically providing an answer to the question on CRT, you can pull from our examples below. You can also ask the reporter how they define critical race theory.

For each of the responses, we provide a short answer for a quick statement and a more detailed response for longer interviews.


QUESTION: Is critical race theory currently being taught in schools? 

ONE SENTENCE: Critical race theory is an anti-racist approach to understanding the legal system that most people won’t encounter until college, but schools can and should teach students to be critical of racism in history and today — and to question the roots of the profound racial inequality in our society.


Use this line from the New York Times: “While few K–12 educators use the term “critical race theory,” discussions of systemic racism have become more common in American schools in recent years. . .”

MORE DETAILS: If some teachers and schools incorporate the insights of critical race theory into their curriculum and practice, that is a victory in the struggle for more equitable schools. All of us can and should teach students to critically analyze racism in history and today. Teachers have to address racism and systemic racial structures when teaching about the history of the United States and current events. To not do so is a disservice to our students and a violation of our professional responsibility. 

Two examples where the insights of critical race theory might show up in a K–12 classroom are the struggle for voting rights and educational justice. 

    • Voting rights: Students learn that laws can be racially discriminatory even if they appear racially neutral. For example, voting restrictions that require a state-issued ID or limit the number of polling places or days of early voting may seem on their face neutral, but they primarily disenfranchise poor, Black, Brown, disabled, and rural voters. Students learn that voter suppression has a long, ongoing history due to a well-funded, white supremacist effort to undermine democracy. By studying that history, they can better recognize the threats and advocate for contemporary voting rights.
    • Education: Students learn that schools today are more segregated than they were 50 years ago. In order to understand why, students study the limitations of Brown v. Board of Education and the persistence of other challenges to educational equality. 


QUESTION: Why are Republicans and the right wing media so focused on critical race theory right now?

Remember to pivot to the responses you want to give.

ONE SENTENCE: “Critical race theory” is a term inaccurately thrown around now as a confusing catch-all for anything the right wing doesn’t like, and it’s used in this way to stop students from asking questions about inequality and racism and to stop teachers from teaching a fuller, race-conscious history of the United States. 

MORE DETAILS: Lawmakers have referenced critical race theory — and conflated it with any kind of anti-racist teaching, such as the New York Times 1619 Project or Black Lives Matter in Schools — in connection with any lesson or training that acknowledges the existence and persistence of racism. Since it is an unfamiliar term to many people, the right wing is using it as an ambiguous container that has little to do with what educators are actually doing each day in schools across the country: trying to teach students how we got to where we are so that they are clear-eyed about how we might move forward.


QUESTION: Doesn’t teaching about racism undermine national unity? 

ONE SENTENCE: No — racism is what prevents unity, so teaching about racism is simply teaching the truth about our society and giving young people the tools to create a more just future. 

MORE DETAILS: We cannot cure a disease we have not properly diagnosed. Helping students understand the history and the reality of the world they live in will help them understand how to make it better. Here are some examples of ways racism shows up in U.S. society:

    • For decades, policies have kept Black Americans from building generational wealth. The average net worth of a white family is at least greater eight times than a Black family.   
    • A Black woman ismore than twice as likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes than a white woman.
    • Black students aremore than  three times more likely to be suspended from school than white students.
    • Anti-Asian hate crimes have surged more than 170 percent so far this year.
    • Antisemitism and Islamophobia are also rising across the United States. They are the direct sources of mass violence and domestic terrorism.

Teaching about racism is an effective way for students to learn the rights that should be shared by all citizens and residents of the United States. To deny those rights for any reason whatsoever is an assault on human rights.

To teach the history of racism in the United States is also an opportunity to teach the history of resistance. These movements have always been multiracial, multiethnic, and built across lines of gender and class. Understanding this can be an important source of hope and unity for all students. 


QUESTION: Isn’t teaching about systemic racism divisive? 

ONE SENTENCE: No — racism is divisive, but understanding racism involves learning about movements and people of every race and ethnicity that came together to challenge racism, and that kind of education promotes unity for a more equitable world.

MORE DETAILS: Racism is one of the most tried and true methods that those in power have used to divide and conquer. Many of the most important changes in U.S. law came about through criticism of the practices that were part of law at one time — and challenging these practices. Remember, the entire Underground Railroad was an illegal movement. Movements for justice often had to break the existing laws to fight for the things that have contributed to greater freedom and justice in the United States. Indeed, without criticism and activism, slavery would not be outlawed, women would not have the right to vote, interracial marriage and gay marriage would still be illegal, labor laws would not have been enacted — the list is endless. We cannot allow the right wing to hide the truth from students about these facts to satisfy their narrow definition of “patriotic education.”


QUESTION:  Shouldn’t we keep politics out of public education and prohibit teachers from indoctrinating students with their personal views?

ONE SENTENCE: Helping students think critically about how racism and other forms of oppression have worked in our society over time is not indoctrination, it’s education.

MORE DETAILS: The truth is, students are discussing issues about race and racism all the time. They are talking about their experience of segregation in schools, or the latest viral video of racist violence. They talk about these things in the hallways, on the playground, or on the school bus. The question we have to answer is: Are we going to allow educators to help provide context and a safe space for these conversations? Or are we going to make education irrelevant to our students by ignoring some of the most important issues facing our society? 

Teachers have to be free to teach about the “Trail of Tears,” Chinese Exclusion, the Tulsa Massacre, or the internment of Japanese Americans without worrying that they will be attacked for being political. 

States and school districts seeking to ban students from learning about systemic racism or sexism in an age-appropriate way do a disservice to them by censoring the very conversations students are eager to engage in, and underestimating students’ ability to develop analytic tools that embrace nuance and complexity. These laws infantilize our youth and render them less prepared to help build a more just and inclusive society.  


QUESTION: Are you teaching that all white people are racist or trying to make white students feel guilty?

ONE SENTENCE: No — we are teaching students history so they can better understand the present and how we can move together into a better future. 

MORE DETAILS: We need to remember that although individuals can espouse racist ideas, the most damaging effects of racism come from institutions and structures. Not all white people say or do racist things — but they do live in a society with structures and institutions that grant privileges to them because of their race. To deny students knowledge of this simple fact is a to miseducate them. 

Students should be taught that inequality is systemic so that individuals recognize that they alone cannot fix it, nor are they alone responsible, but that we need to build multiracial solidarity to create system-wide change.

An honest account of the past teaches about white people who advocated for racial justice, and who can serve as models for white children.

By learning the history of how these inequalities were created and opposed, students see that what was built can be taken apart. 

For more on the shame lie, see this Why the narrative that critical race theory ‘makes white kids feel guilty’ is a lie article by Ursula Wolfe-Rocca and Christie Nold in the Hechinger Report, and listen to Jesse Hagopian address the topic on Taking Back Our History, Starting with the Schools on the Nicole Sandler Show.


QUESTION: Who is responsible for the attack on education about race, gender, and sexuality? Are right-wing politicians the problem?

ONE SENTENCE: Billionaires and the right-wing politicians and political groups they fund are leading the attack on education, and many establishment liberals and the mainstream media enable them.

MORE DETAILS: There is no question that powerful right-wing forces have launched a vicious attack on educators who teach the truth about racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other forms of oppression. Right-wing billionaires, politicians, think tanks, political groups, and news media have led the charge to ban books that even reference race, gender, or sexuality, fire teachers who allow students to critically analyze systemic racism, outlaw Black history, and, ultimately, dismantle education as a public good.

If the #TeachTruth movement is going to decriminalize the ability of teachers to teach for Black lives or teach people’s history, it is imperative that the movement identify the right wing as the sharpest edge of the attack on antiracist education. Yet it is also vital to understand how liberal donors and politicians have also undermined students’ ability to analyze how white supremacy operates in the world they have inherited.

There have been all too many examples of liberals enabling, or worse, joining in the attack on truth teaching. For example, liberal education writer Natalie Wexler wrote, “…if Democrats want to win elections — and allow kids to get a meaningful education — they should stop dismissing parents’ complaints about ‘critical race theory’ as nonsensical fabrications…it would make sense to avoid teaching concepts like ‘white privilege’…” While establishment liberals sometimes initiate this kind of overt attack on antiracist education, it is more common for them to simply allow the right to lead the charge while they look the other way, lend lip service to the cause of racial justice, or try to excuse themselves from participating in the “culture wars.”

This was highlighted in a piece by New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie who explained the conspicuous absence of Democrats from the ranks of those in the struggle to teach the history of systemic racism. He wrote, “Democrats have notably not delivered on many of their promises…. These are not just attacks on individual teachers and schools; they don’t stigmatize just vulnerable children and their communities; they are the foundation for an assault on the very idea of public education, part of the long war against public goods and collective responsibility fought by conservatives on behalf of hierarchy and capital. These are not distractions to ignore; they are battles to be won. The culture war is here, whether Democrats like it or not. The only alternative to fighting it is losing it.”

A clear example of the failure of liberalism to defend Black education is the College Board’s capitulation to Florida’s ban on its AP African American Studies (APAAS) course. While the College Board publicly claimed the curriculum in its APAAS class was not influenced in any way by Florida officials’ rejection of the curriculum, emails obtained by the New York Times between Florida officials and the College Board revealed their claim wasn’t true. The College Board initially told Florida officials that systemic oppression and intersectionality had to be part of the APAAS, but when Governor DeSantis called its bluff and rejected the class, the College Board took out most of the references to intersectionality and entirely removed the word “systemic” from the APAAS. This acquiescence was an attack on antiracist teaching, limiting students’ understanding of racism to interpersonal bigotry rather than addressing its structural causes. Likewise, the popular children’s book publisher Scholastic tried to censor the word racism from a children’s book about Japanese internment. 

We must defend educators’ right to teach about systemic racism — whether the attack is from conservatives or liberals — and build a multiracial movement for a society free of white supremacy and oppression.


QUESTION: Isn’t a racially diverse curriculum unnecessary for white students?

ONE SENTENCE: No — we all live in a multicultural society; teaching white students about racism and anti-racism is essential because it helps them make sense of the world around them and collaborate across racial lines for a better future.

MORE DETAILS: Right-wing forces have long worked to minimize the importance of racially diverse curriculum to all students. They now spread the outrageous claim that teaching white students the history of racism actually makes these students feel shame or guilt about their own identities and the state of the world. In fact, it’s just the opposite. When white children don’t learn why racism exists — that it is structural, that it can be embedded in institutions regardless of the values and viewpoints of the people in those institutions — they often end up blaming themselves. They can become paralyzed with misplaced guilt for the racism they see around them. The people who want to ban teaching about structural racism are shaming white students and using them as props to maintain a discriminatory status quo. 

Social justice educators teach a racially diverse curriculum to empower all of their students with a better understanding of how society works. When teaching about racism throughout history, they also teach about anti-racist traditions that have existed among white people and within multiracial coalitions. They teach about how structural racism works, and how to help undo it. This is what the right wing fears — it’s why they spread this lie about shaming white students, and why they impose curricular gag rules. They know that young people have a choice to make between going along with the status quo or joining in struggles for justice today. They want to take that choice away from students.

For more on the shame lie, see this Why the narrative that critical race theory ‘makes white kids feel guilty’ is a lie article by Ursula Wolfe-Rocca and Christie Nold in the Hechinger Report, and listen to Jesse Hagopian address the topic on Taking Back Our History, Starting with the Schools on the Nicole Sandler Show.


QUESTION: What will be the impact on teaching if these laws pass? Do teachers have to abide by them while they are being litigated? 

ONE SENTENCE: The objective of these proposed laws is to create a chilling effect so that, whether they pass or not in a particular state, teachers everywhere will fear teaching the truth about racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other forms of oppression throughout U.S. history.

MORE DETAILS: In states where the laws have already passed, there are an increasing number of teachers who pledge to follow their conscience and teach the truth about racism while lawsuits challenging these laws make their way through the courts. See this Tennessee example, and one from Oklahoma.


QUESTION: Is the movement for anti-racist education opposed to “parents’ rights?”

ONE SENTENCE: No — educators have long believed that education is strengthened by partnership with the community, including parents and other caregivers collaborating to support all students, but the right wing’s “parents’ rights” movement is about mobilizing a small minority of parents behind book bans and educational gag orders.

MORE DETAILS: In much the way the right wing has long used a claim to “states’ rights” as a euphemism for maintaining laws and policies that maintain segregation or restrict democracy, they are claiming the mantle “parents’ rights” as a way to restrict educational freedom. The extreme right-wing zealots who are promoting the “parents’ rights” talking points from billionaire-funded think tanks aren’t interested in empowering parents — they are using this language as a euphemisms to justify book bans and otherwise restrict which parts of U.S. history teachers can discuss with students.

Black parents who want their family’s story of resistance to enslavement and segregation more fully explored in the classroom are quite clearly not included under the parent’s rights rubric. (Read The Missing Voices in the Panic Over Critical Race Theory.) LGBTQ parents, or parents of LGBTQ children are also excluded from the right’s narrow definition of parents. We need an approach to education that affirms the value of every student and brings parents and educators together in the movement for human rights.


QUESTION: Why do you say that following the prohibitions made in these bills would require teachers not to tell the truth about U.S. history?

ONE SENTENCE: The truth is that racism, genocide, and the destruction of nature played fundamental roles in our nation’s history, so if you can’t teach that, you can’t teach the truth about U.S. history.

MORE DETAILS: Systemic racism and sexism are not hypothetical; they are facts. The United States grew as it did when white people seized Indigenous peoples’ land, expelled them and enslaved Africans. When this country was founded, political and legal rights were limited to white male landowners. White and male elites extended rights  to women, people of color, and people of all income levels only in response to concerted organizing efforts that continue to this day. These are historical facts. Teaching them is teaching truth. Knowing the truth about the past can help create a more just future.

These bills — and similar measures on the local level —  prohibit teachers from helping students understand the causes of the massive inequalities we see today. There is no way to explain the enormous racial wealth gap without explaining redlining, and there is no way to explain redlining without explaining Jim Crow, and there is no way to explain Jim Crow without explaining Reconstruction. There is no way to explain Reconstruction without explaining the Civil War and Emancipation. There is no way to explain Emancipation without explaining slavery and white supremacy. Helping students see those connections across time — the systematic nature of racism — is imperative to understanding our history and  the world today. 


QUESTION: Will these laws impact the ability for teachers to use resources from the Zinn Education Project or Black Lives Matter at School if they work in states where there aren’t bills to ban them?

ONE SENTENCE: These proposed laws are intended to have a chilling effect — so whether they pass or not in a particular state, teachers everywhere will  fear teaching the truth about racism and any other topic the proponents don’t like, whether it is women’s rights, climate change, or any other substantial social issues. 

MORE DETAILS: The Zinn Education Project and efforts like Black Lives Matter at School support educators so they don’t feel intimidated or alone in teaching the truth.

Even in places where there are no new laws, these attacks affect educators who have to spend time defending what they’re teaching once parents and others have been misinformed or scared into  thinking that what teachers are teaching is divisive. Most parents, when informed, support critical teaching about important social issues and see how engaged their children are when they study these topics. See this Oregon example.


QUESTION: Should schools be allowed to teach students about LGBTQ+ identity?  

ONE SENTENCE: LGBTQ+ rights are human rights — the reality is that LGBTQ+ staff and students are in every school and they deserve to not only be safe, but welcomed, supported, and have their identities reflected in the curriculum.

MORE DETAILS: More than 80% of LGBTQ+ students who attended in-person school at some point in 2020-21 experienced harassment or assault, less than 30% reported that their classes include any LGBTQ-related topics, and only 8% said their schools had policies supporting transgender and nonbinary students. (Source: Chalkbeat)

Six states in the country have passed laws to censor discussions of LGBTQ+ people or issues in school and eighteen states have bans on transgender students participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. These attacks are hurting LGBTQ+ students and teachers. One school in Wisconsin banned students from singing the Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton song “Rainbowland” at a school concert and put a teacher on administrative leave who defended the students’ right to sing.

We have seen this before.

During the late 1940s and 50s, the second Red Scare (characterized by the attacks led by Senator Joseph McCarthy and others on anyone they wanted to discredit by labeling them communists) was accompanied by the Lavender Scare — the repression of LGBTQ+ people and their mass firing from government service. The combination of the Red Scare and the Lavender Scare led to the firing of thousands of teachers across the country.

Just as the Red Scare and Lavender scare were used to purge teachers and prohibit any discussion of social and racial justice in school during late 1940s and 50s, the attacks on what history deniers have labeled “critical race theory” and “gender ideology” are being used today to fire educators and exclude discussions about structural racism, sexism, transphobia and homophobia.

We refuse to return to the hysteria and paranoia of the McCarthy era, and we won’t let them use race, gender, and sexuality to divide and conquer us.


QUESTION: Doesn’t the participation of trans athletes hurt cis female student athletes? 

ONE SENTENCE: Including trans athletes will benefit everyone.

MORE DETAILS: Many who oppose the inclusion of trans athletes erroneously claim that allowing trans athletes to compete will harm cisgender women. This divide and conquer tactic gets it exactly wrong. Excluding women who are trans hurts all women. It invites gender policing that could subject any woman to invasive tests or accusations of being “too masculine” or “too good” at their sport to be a “real” woman. In Idaho, the ACLU represents two young women, one trans and one cis, both of whom are hurt by the law that was passed targeting trans athletes.

Further, this myth reinforces stereotypes that women are weak and in need of protection. Politicians have used the “protection” trope time and time again, including in 2016 when they tried banning trans people from public restrooms by creating the debunked “bathroom predator” myth. The real motive is never about protection — it’s about excluding trans people from yet another public space. The arena of sports is no different.

On the other hand, including trans athletes will promote values of non-discrimination and inclusion among all student athletes. As longtime coach and sports policy expert Helen Carroll explains, efforts to exclude subsets of girls from sports, “can undermine team unity and also encourage divisiveness by policing who is ‘really’ a girl.” Dr. Mary Fry adds that youth derive the most benefits from athletics when they are exposed to caring environments where teammates are supported by each other and by coaches. Banning some girls from athletics because they are transgender undermines this cohesion and compromises the wide-ranging benefits that youth get from sports. [This response is taken in full from Four Myths About Trans Athletes, Debunked by Chase Strangio and Gabriel Arkles via ACLU.]


QUESTION: Isn’t sex defined at birth and identifiable through singular biological characteristics?

ONE SENTENCE: Trans girls are girls.

MORE DETAILS: Girls who are trans are told repeatedly that they are not “real” girls and boys who are trans are told they are not “real” boys. Non-binary people are told that their gender is not real and that they must be either boys or girls. None of these statements are true. Trans people are exactly who we say we are.

There is no one way for women’s bodies to be. Women, including women who are transgender, intersex, or disabled, have a range of different physical characteristics.

“A person’s sex is made up of multiple biological characteristics and they may not all align as typically male or female in a given person,” says Dr. Safer. Further, many people who are not trans can have hormones levels outside of the range considered typical of a cis person of their assigned sex.

When a person does not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth, they must be able to transition socially — and that includes participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. According to Dr. Deanna Adkins, excluding trans athletes can be deeply harmful and disruptive to treatment. “I know from experience with my patients that it can be extremely harmful for a transgender young person to be excluded from the team consistent with their gender identity.” [This response is taken in full from Four Myths About Trans Athletes, Debunked by Chase Strangio and Gabriel Arkles via ACLU.]


QUESTION: If you don’t live in a state with a bill that’s pending or passed, what can you do to support those who do?

ONE SENTENCE: Speak out publicly about the danger of these laws and how they have a chilling effect nationally.

MORE DETAILS: Teachers can pledge their support for teaching the truth at the Zinn Education Project website. Get involved with your local school board to help prevent the spread of these laws to your state.


QUESTION: What is critical race theory?

ONE SENTENCE: Critical race theory is a field of legal study that explores the way race is socially constructed and has been used over time to maintain white supremacy.

MORE DETAILS: Critical Race Theory (CRT) was developed by legal scholars in the 1970s and 80s (by Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and others) to analyze racism in the legal system.  

CRT has a few major themes that it applies to legal studies:

      1. First, that race is a social construct that doesn’t have anything to do with biological differences among people.  
      2. Second, while race is not a biological reality, white supremacy exists in our society and part of the way it maintains power is through the legal system — even when that system purports to be colorblind . 
      3. Third, white supremacy can be challenged and a society without racism in its laws and structures is possible. 
      4. Read more.


QUESTION: Why should anyone care, if they live in states where these bills have not been introduced?

ONE SENTENCE: The objective of these proposed laws is to create a chilling effect so that, whether they pass or not in a particular locale, teachers everywhere will be fearful of teaching the truth about racism, gender, and sexuality.

MORE DETAILS: In 2023, there is no corner of the country left untouched by the authoritarian political project to undermine anti-racist and LGBTQ- affirming education. Even in “blue” states, educators are facing attacks on their curriculum and class libraries at the local and district level. All it takes is one right-wing activist mobilizing buzzwords — “CRT,” “groomer,” “parents rights” — to disrupt teaching and learning, and to fuel the Right’s narrative that public schools are not to be trusted. It is important to understand that these attacks are not anomalous, but part of a larger far-right, white supremacist political project predicated on racist voter suppression, transphobia, censorship, and the privatization of public goods.


Media Engagement

Use the key statements and FAQs as talking points when being interviewed by the media. Additionally, here are some best practices to keep in mind, videos to review, and guidelines for writing op-eds.

Best Practices

    1. Practice your talking points in advance of any interview.
    2. During the interview, remember to stay focused on your key messages.
    3. Keep your remarks brief and to the point to ensure your message gets through. 
      • The more you talk about things that are not your most important points, the greater a chance a reporter will select something for a quote that is not your main point.
    4. You can signal to a reporter what they should focus on by “signposting” — using a verbal clue that they should be paying close attention, such as:
        • “If you remember one thing from today, it’s this . . .”
        • “We’re out here today for one key reason . . .”
    5. If a reporter tries to lead you down a path that gets away from your main message, use a “bridge message” to get back to where you want to be.
          • “We think the issue is really this . . . ”
          • “Let’s look at the facts . . .”
          • “The key to solving this problem is . . .”
    6. Consider what your opponents might say, and include words or phrases that might preempt their criticism or objections. 
            • Consider words like “fair,” “just,” “thorough,” “accurate,” “inclusive”
            • Know which opposition messages to address, and which to avoid.

Media Best Practices

What to Expect

Sample Interviews

In addition to practicing the talking points, we recommend watching these sample interviews with Jesse Hagopian and Kimberlé Crenshaw. They were produced by AAPF, drawing from the format of a Zinn Education Project media workshop. The interviews were conducted by Janine Jackson, FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) program director.


In addition to getting the media to cover your event, you and colleagues can submit an op-ed to your local papers. We recommend paying close attention to the guidelines from the Op Ed Project and reading the samples listed below. Our team is happy to provide feedback on your draft.  

(1) Read this detailed guide, Op-ed Writing: Tips and Tricks, from the Op Ed Project

(2) Check out these samples op-eds by teachers related to the anti-history education bills:

(3) We recommend sending the draft to the Zinn Education Project for feedback (Julia Salcedo jsalcedo@zinnedproject.org). We have worked with a number of teachers whose pieces were selected for publication.


Media Outreach

The media can help extend the reach of our message, our action, and our commitment. We had a lot of success getting local and national media coverage for the sites in June.

We can’t emphasize enough what a difference these instructions and resources make. Just about every group that followed the four key steps and used the templates below had print and/or audiovisual media coverage as a result. Your media advisory should be sent as soon as the event is planned and two days before the action. Your media release on the day of the action.

Four Key Steps

ONE: Identify local media to reach out to. 

TWO: Adapt the “Media Advisory Template” below and send it to the contacts identified in step one. Send it to both specific reporters if you have their emails as well as the general news tips address.

    • Make sure the advisory includes up-to-date information on your event: when it’s happening, location, who will be participating, and why. 
    • Include a contact name, email address, and cell phone number for someone who can be reached the day of the event with information.
    • Paste the text you’ve created directly into the text of the email. Newsrooms always prefer to have all the info right there within the email; attachments often get sent to junk mail.
    • Keep the subject line of the email concise, but intriguing enough to get reporters to open it. We recommend the following example: “Local educators rally Saturday against teaching bans.” 

THREE: Call your local outlets early in the morning of the event to let them know TODAY IS THE DAY, and encourage them to attend and cover it.

    • For TV and radio, simply call the station and ask for the newsroom. When you reach someone, have a brief pitch ready that includes what’s happening; when and where; why it’s important, and offer to resend the advisory you sent earlier.
    • For newspapers, call the outlet, and ask for the reporter you sent the advisory to, or for the newsroom, and repeat the steps above. 

FOUR: Send all of your contacts above a media release on the morning of the event. Adapt the ‘Media Release Template” below. 

    • Make sure the template includes up-to-date information on your event: when it’s happening, location, who will be participating, and why. 
    • Include a quote from someone organizing or participating in the event.
    • This makes it easy for reporters to include a voice, even if they can’t do an interview.
      • Make the quote conversational. The more it sounds like something someone would actually say — rather than a prepared statement — the more likely it will be picked up. 
      • Include a contact name, email address, and cell phone number for someone who can be reached the day of the event with information.
    • As noted in step two, paste the text you’ve created directly into the text of the email. Newsrooms always prefer to have all the info right there within the email; attachments often get sent to junk mail.
    • Keep the subject line of the email concise, but intriguing enough to get reporters to open it. We recommend the following: “TODAY: Local educators rally against teaching bans.”

Media Advisory Template

For Immediate Release—(Insert date)


SATURDAY: Local educators hold rally to “Teach Truth” about U.S. history and defend LGBTQ+ rights


    • Educators and community members are gathering to say that young people need to learn the truth about U.S. history in order to shape a more just future.
    • The event comes as lawmakers in at least 44 states attempt to ban lessons about the role of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other oppressions. Lawmakers are also banning books and taking action against trans students.
    • Educators pledge to continue teaching students critical thinking skills that develop problem-solving and collective solutions. 


    • If you are having speakers, LIST KEY SPEAKERS HERE, BY NAME AND AFFILIATION.


    • (date)
    • LIST START TIME HERE and time zone.


      • Note why the site was selected — historical significance


    • Lawmakers in at least 44 states are attempting to pass legislation that would require teachers to lie to their students about the role of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and oppression in U.S. history. 
    • Proposed legislation in Missouri is typical of many of these bills, failing to name inaccuracies or misleading information in banned curricula.
    • Not acknowledging the country’s actual history, including racism and other oppression, is deception, not education.
    • Educators pledging to “Teach Truth” know the power of knowledge to create a more just society.

# # # 






Media Release Template

For Immediate Release—June (insert date), 2023

Educators rally at LOCATION with pledge to ‘Teach Truth’

CITY OR TOWN NAME—Educators [or CONCERNED COMMUNITY MEMBERS FROM # SCHOOLS OR DISTRICTS IF KNOWN] will rally today at LOCATION to defend teaching truthfully and the rights of LGBTQ+ students

Since January 2021, at least 44 states have introduced legislation or taken action to restrict teaching about systemic racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, and other forms of oppression and resistance throughout U.S. history. Books by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American, and LGBTQ+ writers are being banned in record numbers by the same forces passing laws against voting rights, gun reform, trans rights, climate justice, and more. These laws and policies endanger the wellbeing of students, staff, and communities.

This is despite the fact that the majority of Americans support the freedom to learn.

We need to make our voices heard.


The event will take place at LOCATION and TIME.


Similar measures have been introduced in Missouri, Texas, Idaho, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Arizona, North Carolina, and more states. [REMOVE YOUR STATE FROM THIS LIST]. Many have targeted such curricula offered by the New York Times 1619 Project, Southern Poverty Law Center, Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project

Educators in YOUR TOWN OR COUNTY OR STATE are asking how they can teach their students honestly without looking at the historical roots of today’s inequality. 


# # # 






Additional Resources

Teach Truth Syllabus Examples of lessons that are criminalized by many of the anti-CRT and other laws against teaching about systemic racism.

Right-Wing Campaign to Block Teaching for Social Justice A collection of key articles on the anti-history education laws.

Background Reading on Anti-CRT and Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws A compilation of articles and interviews that provide useful background information and analysis on the right’s strategy, funding, and how to respond.

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee StatementIn defense of teaching honestly in Florida and around the United States.

We Make the Future: Messaging Guide and Digital Toolkit: Freedom To LearnResearch based guidance on language to use and free graphics.

Understanding the Attacks on Teaching: A Background Brief for Educators and Leaders A detailed, clearly written brief prepared by Kevin Kumashiro and signed by dozens of organizations.

Making History Matter: From Abstract Truth to Critical Engagement A communications toolkit from the American Association for State and Local History to facilitate more effective communication with the public about history: why it matters, how it can be interpreted, and why it is important to incorporate critical thinking and a multitude of diverse perspectives in the ways we understand it.

Don’t forget to check out the graphics!

Let us know if you need additional support or resources. 

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