The measure will make Texas the second state — following Florida — to ban DEI initiatives in public higher education
Texas is poised to become the largest state in the country to eliminate the funding of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (also known as DEI) programs at public universities.
The Texas Tribune reports that lawmakers came to an agreement Saturday to advance legislation that would ban DEI offices, programs and training at publicly funded universities. The measure further stipulates that all hiring at public universities must be “color-blind and sex-neutral" and that schools cannot create diversity offices or hire employees to conduct DEI work.
The measure is expected to be signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, and will make Texas the second state — following Florida — to ban DEI initiatives in public higher education.
DEI courses have become a hot button topic, particularly among conservatives who argue that the classes will teach white students that they are inferior to their minority peers.
Progressives, however, say that these classes help foster a more inclusive and welcoming environment.
As the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, the passage of the Texas bill will lead to diversity administrators losing their jobs in the next six months, as the law goes into effect.
Students in Texas have argued they, too, will be negatively impacted by the ban on DEI programs, with one graduate student telling the Chronicle, “DEI isn’t just about enrollment. It’s about OK, how can we make sure that this student group feels comfortable enough on this campus — that way they can become part of our larger campus family.”
Earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that will eliminate funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs from public universities and prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in general education courses.
"DEI is better viewed as standing for 'discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination,' and that has no place in our public institutions," DeSantis said in signing the bill, according to Florida's Voice News.
Days after the bill was signed into law in Florida, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued a travel advisory for Florida, saying the state and its Republican governor are "openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals."
In a statement, the organization specifically cited the elimination of DEI programs at state universities, adding: "Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color."
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Education has become a hot-button topic heading into the 2024 presidential election, with Republican-backed legislatures around the country passing bills to govern which bathrooms students use or what they speak about in classrooms (which has led to an uptick in book bans at school libraries around the country).
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