Back in April, after several years of fierce debate between state legislators and Mexican-American activists, the Texas Board of Education finally voted to establish a course on Mexican-American studies. Unfortunately, the victory was bittersweet. Critics of the curriculum forced a compromise that turned the independent and hard-earned Mexican-American studies course into one small subset within an “ethnic studies” courses instead.
Now, the Texas Board of Education has struck another blow to the curriculum; this time by limiting the identity of the very community it’s supposedly teaching about.
In a final reading of the TEKS curriculum requirements on September 12th, the term “Latinx” (which is a gender-neutral term often used in place of “Latina” or “Latino”) was eliminated from the course studies in a vote by Republican representatives. Instead, “Latina/Latino” will be exclusively used—even though the terms are not necessarily interchangeable identifiers.
The Board claimed they removed “Latinx” from the curriculum because it’s “controversial” and “offensive.” (David Bradley, the conservative representative from Beaumont, Texas, literally used Wikipedia as his “source.”)
And that’s not all. According to activist Denise Hernandez, the word “illegal”—as in “illegal immigrant” has been tentatively approved within the curriculum. Describing undocumented immigrants as “illegal” has long been controversial because of its racist and dehumanizing undertones, and—if this edit is approved—it will pass this bias on to generations of Texas students.
Thankfully, there’s still time to fight back—though it’s running out. The final vote on these changes take place today, September 14th. If you live in Texas and feel strongly about this issue, call your representatives ASAP and tell them the state has no business arbitrarily limiting the identities of marginalized people.