With over 30 anti-DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) bills proposed across the country threatening initiatives, support offices, and curriculum in higher education, the results are mixed: most received pushback from campus DEI advocates, some have been tabled or failed to garner enough support, and one has been vetoed — however, others have become dangerously real.
These attacks are now a reality in Florida and North Dakota, where bills have been signed into law, and Tennessee, where an approved bill sits on the desk of the respective state governor awaiting signature.
Expanding goals of the Stop WOKE Act, or HB 7, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed Senate Bill 266/House Bill 999, banning the state’s public colleges and universities from spending state or federal funds for DEI programs and activities that support or engage in political or social activism, unless required by an accrediting body. It also eliminates general education course requirements that dive into theories that teach systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the country’s institutions and gives boards of trustees more power in personnel hiring and firing decisions. DeSantis also signed House Bill 931, prohibiting required diversity statements.
DeSantis’ Don’t Say Gay bill is in the process of being expanded with House Bill 1069, which bans K-12 schools from incorporating lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation and prevents them from requiring staff to refer to students with pronouns that “don’t correspond” with their sex.
In Tennessee, Senate Bill 102 will ban implicit bias training requirements for employees of the state’s public schools and universities and department of education.
In North Dakota, Senate Bill 2247, which blocks DEI hiring statements and mandatory diversity training at state public universities, was signed into law and will go into effect August 1. Among a variety of actions, the bill also prohibits disciplinary action against students or faculty for refusing to endorse specified concepts, including those that assert the U.S. is inherently racist or sexist and that all Americans are not created equal and endowed inalienable rights.
Similar measures were halted in Kansas on April 6, where a budget bill prohibiting — among other anti-DEI proposals.— public university DEI funding and required diversity statements from students, employees, and job applicants were line-item vetoed by the state’s Democratic governor Laura Kelly.●
This article was published in our June 2023 issue.
For additional coverage on recent anti-DEI legislation, visit insightintodiversity.com/waronDEI.