Texas lawmakers approve ban on diversity programs at public universities, possibly joining Florida

top line

Lawmakers in Texas sent a bill to the desk of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday that, if signed, would ban diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at public universities, just weeks after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R ) in Florida signed a similar bill.

key facts

The bill seeks to have Texas universities get rid of their DEI offices and programs, along with any mandatory diversity training, and would require all hiring practices to be “color-blind and sex-neutral,” according to the text of the bill. bill.

To enforce, the bill says colleges can’t spend the state money allocated to them until they submit a report certifying the school’s compliance with the new law, which takes effect in the spring semester of the school year. 2023-2024.

An earlier version of the bill sought to require universities to reassign current DEI office staff to new positions with similar salaries, but to pass the bill before the end of the Texas state legislative session, that requirement would be removed and the bill now states that universities can provide letters of recommendation for dislocated employees.

what to observe

Although session ends May 29 for Texas lawmakers, Abbott has until June 18 to sign the bill into law. Abbott hasn’t commented on the bill since lawmakers sent it to his desk over the weekend, but in the past, his chief of staff has ordered people not to use diversity, equity and inclusion policies in hiring. for fear that it violates federal and state employment. laws

key background

Presidential candidate and Florida Governor DeSantis signed a similar bill that went into effect in early May to prevent public universities from funding diversity, equity and inclusion programs, though that bill also limited how it can be discussed. race in college classrooms. The push follows recent efforts in several GOP-led states to restrict the way race, sexuality and other issues are discussed. Signing the Florida bill, DeSantis said DEI “has no place in our public institutions” and that students who want to learn about “niche topics” can do so elsewhere because “Florida is getting out of that game.” . After DeSantis signed the law, along with a host of other laws restricting things like critical race theory in the classroom, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued a travel advisory for Florida in response to DeSantis’ “aggressive attempts to erase black history”. and restrict diversity, equity and inclusion programs in Florida schools.” Unlike the Florida bill, the Texas legislation does not affect the academic curriculum or available offerings; nor does it affect the admissions process, the operation of student organizations, or faculty research. Since its introduction, many faculty and students across the state have opposed the bill, though the Texas Tribune reported that university leaders have remained silent about the bill’s potential impact.

critical boss

A group of Texas college students known as Texas Students for DEI said in a statement to the Texas Tribune that the lawmakers behind the decision “fundamentally misunderstand the role of DEI,” which they argued “represents a dedication to creating and maintaining an open and supportive environment for all students, regardless of background.”

Other reading

Texas lawmakers find consensus on bill banning diversity, equity and inclusion offices at public universities (Texas Tribune)

Texas lawmakers send anti-DEI bill to Abbott’s desk (The Hill)

DeSantis signs bill prohibiting public universities from funding diversity programs (Forbes)

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