Texas Law Prohibiting DEI Offices Takes Effect

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Photo of The University of Texas at Austin campus. The school, along with other UT System institutions, has paused DEI policies.
The University of Texas at Austin campus

The Texas law, Senate Bill 17, took effect this month, prohibiting DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) offices and hiring of staff to perform DEI office duties at public higher education institutions.

On June 17, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed the bill into law. In addition to preventing the establishment of DEI offices and staff, the bill also bans institutions from requiring participation in DEI training and requiring or soliciting DEI statements.

It also requires public institutions to adopt policies for disciplining an employee or contractor who violates the law, according to a recent guide by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Universities across the state are changing operations in response. For instance, the University of Texas at Austin announced a DEI department name change to the Division of Campus and Community Engagement in December.

Although President Taylor Eighmy at The University of Texas at San Antonio initially announced the closure of the Office of Inclusive Excellence and the intended creation of a new office known as the Office of Campus and Community Belonging, plans for the new office are canceled, according to an announcement posted on Jan. 2.

“Given our evolving understanding of SB 17 as well as continuing voluntary changes in staffing and personnel reappointments from that office, it no longer made sense to launch the new office,” Eighmy said in a statement.

In 2023, Republican lawmakers introduced more than 40 bills targeting DEI efforts on college campuses. Recently, Kentucky became one of the first states in 2024 to target DEI efforts with a new bill that would allow employees and students to sue public universities and colleges if they face discrimination for opposing “divisive concepts.”