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- La. state Rep. Ray Garofalo said that public schools should teach the "good" and "bad" of slavery.
- His suggestion was immediately dismissed by fellow GOP state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty.
- Garofalo backs legislation that would prevent teaching that the US or Louisiana is "systematically racist or sexist."
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GOP state Rep. Ray Garofalo of Louisiana on Tuesday said that public schools and colleges should teach the "good" of slavery during discussions about race, as part of a bill that he proposed that would bar "divisive concepts" from classrooms.
Garofalo, who chairs the House Education Committee, said during a hearing on the bill, also known as HB 564, that his legislation sought to remove "politics out of the classroom" and cultivate "a learning environment free of discrimination."
When Garofalo began to explain how slavery could be taught in the classroom, his comments elicited derision.
"If you're having a discussion on slavery, then you can talk about everything dealing with slavery, the good, the bad, the ugly," he said.
His suggestion was immediately dismissed by fellow GOP state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty.
"There's no good to slavery, though," she said.
-Louisiana Democrats (@LaDemos) April 27, 2021
Garofalo's bill would have barred teaching that the US or Louisiana is "systematically racist or sexist," among other requirements for exploring such issues in classroom discussions.
The bill would also ban the instruction of information that "teaches, advocates, acts upon or promotes divisive concepts."
On Tuesday, the proposal stalled, but Garofalo was optimistic about rewriting some of the language in order to gain the support of some skeptical Republicans.
However, a bipartisan group of committee members asked Garofalo not to bring back the bill during the current legislative session, according to the Associated Press.
"I'm not sure that we can get this bill in the correct posture this session," said GOP state Rep. Barbara Freiberg.
Democratic state Rep. Gary Carter slammed the legislation as "a bad bill."
The Louisiana Democratic Party, which shared a video of Garofalo on their Twitter account, rebuked his statements on slavery.
"The low point of session undoubtedly came today when Rep. Ray Garofalo said Louisiana schools need to teach the good of slavery," the party wrote.
The legislation comes as Republicans across the country have pushed back against critical race theory, which seeks to explore how generations of inequality and racism still reverberate in American society.
Garofalo argued that critical race theory "furthers racism and fuels hate."
When asked what specific problems have arisen in Louisiana regarding such teachings, Garofalo said that he's heard "concerns" from various teachers and parents, but declined to provide any names, according to the Associated Press.
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