Alabama gov. signs bill axing diversity, equity and inclusion programs

The measure, which takes effect Oct. 1, is part of a wave of proposals from Republican lawmakers across the country taking aim at DEI programs.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey
Posted at 7:41 AM, Mar 21, 2024

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday signed legislation that would ban diversity, equity and inclusion programs at public schools, universities and state agencies and prohibit the teaching of "divisive concepts" including that someone should feel guilty because of their race or gender.

The measure, which takes effect Oct. 1, is part of a wave of proposals from Republican lawmakers across the country taking aim at diversity, equity and inclusion programs, also known as DEI, on college campuses. Republicans say the programs deepen divisions and promote a particular political viewpoint. But opponents say it is a rollback of hard-won advances and programs that welcome underrepresented student populations.

"My administration has and will continue to value Alabama's rich diversity, however, I refuse to allow a few bad actors on college campuses – or wherever else for that matter – to go under the acronym of DEI, using taxpayer funds, to push their liberal political movement counter to what the majority of Alabamians believe," Ivey said in a statement.

Also Wednesday, an Alabama House committee advanced legislation that would ban teacher-led discussions in public schools on sexual orientation and gender identity and prohibit displaying Pride flags in classrooms. The measure, part of a wave of laws across the country that critics have dubbed "Don't Say Gay," now moves to the full House.

The DEI measure was sharply criticized by opponents who said it was taking the state backward, instead of forward.

"This regressive measure undermines the strides we've made in cultivating an inclusive society in Alabama by stifling essential discussions and programs that are key to improving our state," Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels said.

Daniels said it "detrimentally impacts the educational experience of college students by removing programs in which they can receive support, build communities, and learn how to be prosperous and inclusive citizens,"

The Alabama legislation would prohibit universities, K-12 school systems and state agencies from sponsoring DEI programs, defined under the bill as classes, training, programs and events where attendance is based on a person's race, sex, gender identity, ethnicity, national origin or sexual orientation.

The bill also says schools, universities and state agencies cannot require students, employees and contractors to attend classes and training sessions "that advocates for or requires assent" to what the bill lists as eight "divisive concepts."

The list of banned concepts includes that "any individual should accept, acknowledge, affirm, or assent to a sense of guilt, complicity, or a need to apologize on the basis of his or her race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin," or that fault, blame or bias should be assigned to people based on race, religion, gender or national origin.

Auburn University, a public institution, said in a letter to faculty, staff and students that it was evaluating the new law's implications.

The measure will affect "use of state funds to sponsor DEI programs and activities" but does not prohibit instruction associated with accreditation standards and academic support for students of a particular demographic, university leadership wrote.

"We are resolute in our mission to deliver exceptional student experiences and to provide support to all of our students with particular emphasis on providing access and opportunity," the letter said.

The bill also would attempt to prohibit transgender people on college campuses from using multiple occupancy restrooms that correspond with their current gender identity.

The legislation says colleges and universities "shall ensure that every multiple occupancy restroom be designated for use by individuals based" on the sex that a person was assigned at birth. It is unclear how the requirement would be enforced.

NAACP encouraging Black student-athletes to leave Florida schools
Florida guard Will Richard (5) looks to pass during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game .

NAACP encouraging Black student-athletes to leave Florida schools

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