Black lawmakers in Texas criticize bill aimed at banning DEI offices in higher education


The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill on Monday that would ban diversity, equity and inclusion offices at public colleges and universities, a move black leaders say would hinder progress and stifle future research funding.

this legislation Passed by a vote of 83 to 62, and now goes back to the state Senate thanks to changes made in the House.If the bill is passed and signed by Governor Greg Abbott, Texas will join other states, including Florida and North Dakota passed laws targeting DEI programs, training and funding earlier this year.

Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, a Democrat representing San Antonio and vice chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, said the legislation would take away resources from students and “endanger dozens of billions of dollars in grant/research funding, which will deprive us of essential discoveries and industry-leading innovations.”

The University of Texas at Austin is one of many schools in the state that would be affected by the proposed legislation.

“Instead of moving forward, today we are moving backwards perniciously in our state,” Gervin-Hawkins said in a statement. “We must recognize that diversity is not a threat, but a strength.”

The group’s chairman, Rep. Ron Reynolds, who represents Missouri City, said in a statement that passage of the legislation shows that lawmakers are “out of touch with the future of the state” and will prevent the state from becoming a leader in top talent and academics. innovation.

Another consequence of the legislation could be the loss of students and future students, the caucus said.

“What message are we sending to African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, people with disabilities, veterans who will be adversely affected by this legislation?” Reynolds said on the House floor on Monday.

Senate Bill 17 would prohibit public colleges and universities in Texas from establishing DEI offices, DEI statements, and prohibit them from conducting mandatory DEI training.

The bill’s author, Sen. Brandon Creighton, a Republican representing Conroe, described the DEI office as “divisive” and said their work had made no progress in advancing or increasing diversity.

“With this bold, forward-looking legislation that eliminates the DEI program, Texas is leading the nation and ensuring our campuses refocus on the power of diversity, promoting a merit-based approach based on an individual’s qualifications, skills, and contribute” Creighton said in a statement After the bill passed the Senate last month.

The term DEI has become the latest target of conservative politicians in recent months, echoing debates in schools over critical race theory and students’ access to books related to race, racism and LGBTQ issues.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation Eliminated funding for diversity, equity and inclusion programs at all state universities earlier this month.

“This is best viewed as representing discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination, which have no place in our public institutions,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Sarasota.

Under the law, FSU is prohibited from spending state or federal funds to promote, support or maintain any program that “advocates diversity, equity and inclusion, or promotes or engages in political or social activism.”

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