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In the States: Texas State Senate Approves Anti-DEI Bill

The “In the States” feature by Kaitlyn Brennan is a weekly update to keep members informed on state-level activities impacting the education and educator preparation community.

Last week, the Texas State Senate approved a bill that would largely restrict how the state’s public universities can promote equitable access to higher education and cultivate diversity among students, faculty and staff. The bill, SB17, would require universities to close their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) offices; ban any mandatory training surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion; and eliminate the completion of diversity statements as part of the hiring process.

In a statement Sen. Judith Zaffirini,(D-Laredo) said:

“The consequences range from the unknown to the dire … Senate Bill 17 will be a giant step backward in our quest for equal opportunity and equal worth for all. … I worry that stifling diversity, equity, and inclusion on our academic campuses … will breed the negative attitudes and behaviors typically attributed to ignoramuses while stifling the development of tolerant, enlightened communities.”

However, Sen. Brandon Creighton, (R-Conroe), who filed both SB17 and SB18 that would eliminate tenure across public universities, dismissed the Senator and Democrats at large concerns, saying in part:

“DEI programs have been shown to be exclusive, they have been shown to be ineffective and they have shown to be politically charged … Many of these programs have been weaponized to compel speech instead of protecting free speech.”

Texas is not the first state to put forward such a piece of legislation, just this year at least 19 states have introduced nearly three dozen anti-DEI bills.

Democrats in the Texas state legislature have gone on record stating that they do not believe the measure will pass the House.

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