Haley Stevens gets called 'a coward' at town hall after declining to take a stance on critical race theory

Rep. Haley Stevens asked about her position on critical race theory

Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., holds a town hall where she's asked about her position on critical race theory in education.

Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., faced intense backlash at a recent town hall meeting after she refused to take a stance on critical race theory, the highly controversial ideology that many blame for certain racial materials in schools.

Footage obtained by Fox News showed Stevens being asked about CRT during a June 10 town hall in Northville, Michigan. She responded: "As a member of the Education and Labor Committee, what I want to do is continue to support our schools to be able to educate the next generation."

At that point, people started talking over her and a man seemed to ask for her position on CRT. She eventually told the crowd that she didn't think CRT was a congressional issue. "I personally don't think this is a congressional issue … so I am not taking a position on that," she said.

"What a coward!" shouted a male voice. "You're a coward." Stevens seemed to smile in response.

Stevens' communications director, Larkin Parker, told Fox News: "The congresswoman absolutely did take a stance, school curriculums are not a congressional issue. It is up to the local school boards to make these choices."

She added that "the curriculum in Michigan’s 11th district schools is absolutely not part of congressional jurisdiction. A member of Congress trying to set federal policy about what local schools can teach, is a major overstep of congressional powers which is exactly what the congresswoman said."

TERRY MCAULIFFE CALLS CRITICAL RACE THEORY CONCERNS A ‘RIGHT-WING CONSPIRACY’

The footage obtained by Fox News shows a woman asking Stevens: "What is your position on non-empirical critical race theory in the school curriculum?" The follow-up from a male questioner seemed to just ask about CRT, although the audio is somewhat unclear.

Stevens' answer came amid an intensifying debate over the ideology that many say has infiltrated and damaged education throughout the country. At the congressional level, Republicans have proposed legislation and requested information from federal agencies regarding their use of CRT and its related ideas.

Stevens also serves on the House Committee on Education & Labor, which "oversees federal programs and initiatives dealing with education at all levels." Under President Biden, the U.S. Department of Education has received civil rights complaints purportedly related to CRT. The new administration has also proposed grant funding that's been viewed as a way to promote CRT and its related ideas.

Just last week, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., pressed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on whether he thought the military was a "fundamentally racist organization." He claimed: "We’re hearing reports of plummeting morale, growing mistrust between the races and sexes where none existed just six months ago, and unexpected retirements and separations based on these trainings alone."

Former President Trump previously banned ideas associated with CRT from federal trainings, but that move was quickly reversed when President Biden entered office.

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The controversy over CRT appeared to heat up last summer, after researcher Chris Rufo leaked training materials from federal entities, over which Congress has oversight.

Regardless, Republicans will likely face an uphill battle getting legislative support from Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House. Some on the left have dismissed conservatives' complaints about CRT. On Monday, for example, Fox News reported on Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe's claim that the controversy over CRT was a "right-wing conspiracy."

Sam Dorman Fox News