As her nine-year-old prepares to start fourth grade, Jill McLaughlin is well known to her teachers, principal, and even the school superintendent. Since her daughter’s been a student at Peter Hobart Elementary, McLaughlin’s been pushing back on what she considers a divisive environment, driven by a deeply embedded focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Despite protestations to the contrary, McLaughlin insists critical race theory is systemic. From school newsletters to LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter posters in classrooms and hallways, it’s pervasive, McLaughlin says.
McLaughlin believes equity has been propagandized to advance an agenda she doesn’t favor. Equity is about ensuring everyone has the same outcome. Equality is about ensuring everyone has the same opportunity, she insists.
The white mother of an adopted black child I’ll call Mary, McLaughlin wants her daughter to forge her own destiny, unrestrained by or advantaged by her race. She’s interested in equality for Mary, not equity.
As she’s become aware of the culture of “wokeism” in the school, McLaughlin’s paid close attention to what Mary is learning. She’s tried to prepare her for what she’d hear about race and equity. Even so, McLaughlin was stunned when she heard a story about one day’s lesson.
One evening last spring, Mary became distraught. Through her sobs, Mary explained that the third grade teacher had been reading to the class from a book called “Enough! 20+ Protesters Who Changed America” when the discussion turned to law enforcement.
Though she doesn’t know exactly what was said, McLaughlin does know how Mary responded. Hiding under the covers, Mary said she was afraid to leave their home because police shoot black people like her.
McLaughlin reports her daughter is struggling to reconcile other confusing messages.
“Mom, they talk about us all being equal and skin color doesn’t matter, but then they talk about how different we are and how black people are treated by the police … it’s just so confusing. It doesn’t make any sense.”
McLaughlin reached a point where she could no longer remain silent and passive. Though other parental rights groups already exist, she formed a nonpartisan nonprofit, Good Trouble Parents, to be a voice both locally and nationally for mixed-race and transracial adoptive families like hers.
On the Good Trouble Parents website, she describes part of the impetus for the organization.
“Districts across the country are sending teachers to ‘anti-racist talent development’ training under the guise of ‘professional development.’ It’s a fact that some of these teachers are forcing children to deconstruct their racial (and sexual) identities and rank themselves according to their ‘power and privilege.’ They separate kids, even as young as kindergarteners, into groups of ‘oppressors’ and ‘oppressed’ and participate in activities like ‘privilege and oppression.'”
Teaching kids about being either an oppressor or oppressed is a mind-bending concept. We have more mixed-race families than ever before. TV commercials feature one mixed-race family after another. And the United States was intended to be a melting pot, not a collection of silos based on race, gender, and sexual preference.
McLaughlin fears children like hers will be groomed to hate their parents. It’s a realistic concern. This toxic theory permeates schools, businesses, churches, and families.
How confusing must it be for children whose parents don’t share their complexion to learn that whites are oppressors and blacks are oppressed?
How are so-called oppressors supposed to have healthy, loving relationships with people they allegedly oppress?
It takes a lot of energy to stand up to a well-organized movement with the wind at its back. McLaughlin is committed, but she’s also a bit frustrated, for though she knows others share her concerns, many remain reticent.
“One of the things that crushed me as I’ve opened my eyes is how cowardly and weak most people are,” McLaughlin says. “People who I thought were strong pillars of society have hidden behind the couch.”
But she’s clear about her motivation and who she’s doing this for.
Her fealty is to her daughter.