Utah Charter School Cancels Black History Month Opt Out

Feb 8, 2021, 9:35 PM | Updated: Feb 9, 2021, 12:14 am

NORTH OGDEN, Utah – A Utah charter school canceled an option that would allow students to opt-out of a Black History Month curriculum following some serious backlash.

The charter school said 100% of families will participate in Black History Month and it will work with concerned parents individually in the future.

But right now other concerns have been raised, like has Utah made enough progress in equity and inclusion?

“We hoped we were at a better place of including other people’s histories,” said Betty Sawyer, head of the NAACP in Ogden. She is among many who were deeply concerned over the initial decision that allowed parents to have their students opt out of the Black History Month curriculum at Maria Montessori Academy.

“You cannot look at history in this country without being able to tell a story about Blacks in history,” said Sawyer.

On Friday, the charter school sent out a letter that said parents would be allowed to exercise their civil rights to not participate in Black History Month. A move Sawyer said felt more like the opposite of civil rights.

“We work for decades trying to provide equity and inclusion on these issues in, not only social studies curriculum but others because the history of Blacks in American has been excluded, watered down and whitewashed for so long,” said Sawyer.

Over the weekend, the school issued a statement, which said, “We are grateful that families that initially had questions and concerns have willingly come to the table to resolve any differences and at this time no families are opting out of our planned activities and we have removed this option.”

However the decision did not come before sparking criticism from the community, including Rep. Blake Moore, who tweeted a statement that read, “Our children should learn and celebrate Black history without controversy.”

Utah Jazz Guard Donovan Mitchel called it “sickening and sad!!

Overall Sawyer was optimistic for more inclusive change. “Black history is American history — it is not something you do once a year,” said Sawyer.

Sawyer was also concerned about how the controversy affected Black students.

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Utah Charter School Cancels Black History Month Opt Out