OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A controversial state law is facing a new legal challenge. HB 1775 is known as the so-called anti-Critical Race Theory law, and it limits certain teachings on race and gender. A metro teacher is now also joining in on the lawsuit with the ACLU.

“I’m petrified,” said Anthony Crawford, a teacher at a metro high school.

When Anthony Crawford was a student, he got kicked out of class after asking a question during Black History Month.

“I asked my teacher, ‘When are we going to learn about Black history?’ And he kind of got mad,” said Crawford. “He said I was being defiant. I didn’t understand it back then, but as I got older, I said, ‘Oh, because it was uncomfortable for him to teach black history in class.’”

Now, Crawford works at a predominately black school. He’s also a plaintiff in an ACLU lawsuit, among other organizations, who’s asking a federal judge to put the anti-CRT law on hold so details and rules can be ironed out.

A local teacher is challenging the state's anti-CRT law.
Anthony Crawford, image KFOR

ACLU staff attorney, Hanna Roberts, said CRT is a theory that’s taught in colleges. She said it is not being taught in Oklahoma schools because the complex topic would go over kids’ heads.

“It said that individual racism is not the only type of racism that exists in the world, that there are things like systemic racism, racism that exists or is embedded in our political, our legal and judicial system,” said Roberts.

Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, told KFOR that people are misinterpreting the law.

“It says you’re not going to teach the concept that an individual should feel guilt for these things,” said West.

Roberts said the ACLU argued the CRT law violates First Amendment rights and kids’ rights to learn in the classroom, and prevents fruitful debates.

“Being able to have conversations about those hard topics make it easier for students to be able to function in the real world,” said Roberts.

“To any teachers who are concerned about this, teach to the [Oklahoma] standards and you’ll be fine,” said West.

Crawford feels otherwise.

“Even in Oklahoma standards, it’s still showing things that we can’t teach, which is Black history,” said Crawford. “For African-Americans, we’ve been learning European history all our lives. We’ve been feeling uncomfortable since the moment we walked in the classroom.”

“It’s perfectly fine to say what has happened in the past,” said West. “What is not acceptable is to say that because you’re part of that group, you automatically fall into that same statistic.”

Crawford said he’s scared of what could happen to him by being part of the lawsuit. Not only does he have a child of his own, but numerous students who depend on him. However, he believes it’s worth the fight.

“I’m still a voice for their education. So, I’ve got to be that voice regardless if we can’t teach certain things or not,” said Crawford.

The ACLU said they’re seeing this law play out exactly as they’ve warned, which is another reason why they asked the judge to pause it nine months ago. The decision is still in the works.

The State Attorney General’s Office said they could not comment because of the lawsuit.