Advocacy group to host panel discussing inclusive public education

A national group that advocates for a public education system that supports everyone is hosting a discussion panel.
Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 5:11 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 28, 2023 at 7:30 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A national group that advocates for a public education system that supports everyone regardless of sexual orientation, religion, or culture is hosting a discussion panel in Charleston on Thursday.

They are calling it, “Defending Democracy in SC,” and they say they are meeting to collaborate and discuss what can be done to fight against “extremist” laws being made to restrict education.

In South Carolina and across the U.S., there is a lot of conflict and controversy surrounding gender-inclusive language, critical race theory, and books containing sexual content in schools.

The national organization hosting the panel is called Defense of Democracy, and they say that their goal is to figure out what they can do to stop lawmakers, parents, and school boards from imposing these types of “extremist” regulations in public schools.

They say it’s a problem that teachers don’t have the ability to teach their curriculum as they know how, and many educators are penalized, and in some cases, fired because of it.

It seems like it comes down to a debate between the rights of parents versus the rights of schools and teachers.

Defense of Democracy CEO Karen Svoboda says it’s crucial for children not to be shielded from topics that discuss gender and sexuality.

“You don’t have a right to turn away a child away from a book that might give them some answers about their humanity. The human experience is valuable,” Svoboda said. “Books that explore the human experience whether it is about gender, or family, or spirituality, or race; these are valuable tools for any child to grow up to be a valuable human person and member of their community, and an American who knows what they want out of life. This is something that you are hurting children when you are taking away that right from them.”

But, South Carolina State Representative April Cromer is arguing that parents, not teachers, should get to decide when and how their children are exposed to language about sexual orientation and gender inclusivity.

“The teacher gets great hours of your child’s day. Most teachers care about the children, take good care of them, teach them, but at the end of the day, it’s the parents who knows what’s best for their child,” Cromer said. “You send your child to school to be educated in reading, writing, arithmetic, the basic skills in life. And there are two different roles. You have the role of the parent and the role of the teacher. The parent knows what’s best for their child and there are boundaries. You know, there are very few instances, but in South Carolina, those boundaries are being pushed.”

The main disagreement continues to be who gets to decide what the role of education is.

For details on the event and to RSVP to Thursday’s discussion panel, visit