Abbott signs bill to bar diversity, equity and inclusion offices from Texas colleges

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has signed a bill into law to bar diversity, equity and inclusion offices from public colleges in the state.

Abbott signed the legislation on Wednesday after both chambers of the state legislature approved it late last month. His signature makes Texas the second state after Florida to ban such offices at publicly funded universities.

The law will require that the governing boards for these colleges not create or maintain an office of diversity, equity and inclusion, hire and assign an employee or contract a third party to perform the duties of such an office or “compel, require, induce or solicit” any person to provide a diversity, equity and inclusion statement or give preferential treatment to anyone based on providing such a statement.

It also bans public universities from giving preference to an applicant for employment, an employee or a participant in any college function based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin and from requiring that anyone participate in a diversity, equity and inclusion training.

The law notes that the prohibitions should not be construed to apply to academic course instruction, scholarly research or a creative work from a student, faculty member or other personnel, a registered student organization activity, guest speakers or student recruitment and admissions.

The state auditor will be directed to occasionally audit each institution to confirm compliance. If a college is not in compliance and does not fix the violation within 180 days of when the determination was made, it could lose funding.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is also being directed to work with public institutions to conduct a study every two years until 2029 on the effects of the law on the application, acceptance, matriculation, retention and graduation rate and grade point average at the colleges.

The law, which is set to take effect at the start of next year, comes as the Supreme Court is set to rule soon on two similar cases that could determine the future of using race as a factor in universities’ admissions process.

Abbott directed state agencies in February to stop considering diversity in hiring practices, arguing that it is illegal.

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