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Monday, December 20, 2021

Parents protesting 'critical race theory' identify another target: Mental health programs

Tyler Kingkade and Mike Hixenbaugh
NBC News
Originally posted 15 NOV 21

At a September school board meeting in Southlake, Texas, a parent named Tara Eddins strode to the lectern during the public comment period and demanded to know why the Carroll Independent School District was paying counselors “at $90K a pop” to give students lessons on suicide prevention.

“At Carroll ISD, you are actually advertising suicide,” Eddins said, arguing that many parents in the affluent suburban school system have hired tutors because the district’s counselors are too focused on mental health instead of helping students prepare for college.


In Carmel, Indiana, activists swarmed school board meetings this fall to demand that a district fire its mental health coordinator from what they said was a “dangerous, worthless” job. And in Fairfax County, Virginia, a national activist group condemned school officials for sending a survey to students that included questions like “During the past week, how often did you feel sad?”

Many of the school programs under attack fall under the umbrella of social emotional learning, or SEL, a teaching philosophy popularized in recent years that aims to help children manage their feelings and show empathy for others. Conservative groups argue that social emotional learning has become a “Trojan horse” for critical race theory, a separate academic concept that examines how systemic racism is embedded in society. They point to SEL lessons that encourage children to celebrate diversity, sometimes introducing students to conversations about race, gender and sexuality.

Activists have accused school districts of using the programs to ask children invasive questions — about their feelings, sexuality and the way race shapes their lives — as part of a ploy to “brainwash” them with liberal values and to trample parents’ rights. Groups across the country recently started circulating forms to get parents to opt their children out of surveys designed to measure whether students are struggling with their emotions or being bullied, describing the efforts as “data mining” and an invasion of privacy.