Texas Public Institutions Diversity Offices May Be Banned

Friday, Texas moved closer to abolishing diversity, equality, and inclusion offices in public institutions after hours of discussion and Democratic attempts to kill the bill. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s legislative priority to ban such offices, initiatives, and diversity training was approved by the Texas House 83–60.

To stop a flood of amendments from Democrats opposing Senate Bill 17, lawmakers approved an amendment offered by the bill’s sponsor, Seguin Republican John Kuempel, that requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to conduct an annual study into the impact of banning DEI offices, allows universities to make “reasonable efforts” to re-assign DEI employees to new positions with similar pay, and shifts the bill’s effective date.

The state coordinating board manages higher education policy at public institutions and universities. This change addressed Democrats’ fears that dismantling diversity offices and programs would put institutions at danger of losing federal money, one of the many reasons they filed amendments Friday night to postpone the bill’s approval. Rep. Nicole Collier, D-Fort Worth, said the delay will allow colleges to ensure current funds meet DEI rules.

The Senate might accept the modifications or convene in a conference committee to resolve the issues after the measure passes. Texas would join Florida in banning it if the bill passes. For years, colleges and universities have had DEI offices to increase faculty diversity and support diverse students.

Texas Public Institutions Diversity Offices May Be Banned

These offices organize mentorships, tutoring, programs to enhance underrepresented groups in science and engineering, and faculty diversity initiatives. They assist departments recruit broadly and guarantee institutions don’t breach federal discrimination rules.

House Democrats said the bill reverses progress and jeopardizes public university spending. Supporters argue that removing or weakening such offices will make schools less welcoming places to work and study, reverse efforts to correct past discrimination against students who were not always welcome on campus, and stall progress to make public universities’ student populations better reflect state demographics.

Kuempel stated that these offices are not promoting diversity.

DEI programs are also accused of instilling left-wing ideology in students and teachers and prioritizing social justice over merit and accomplishment.

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Texas kids disagree.

Lawmakers altered the House measure beyond the late Friday compromise. Kuempel also successfully amended the bill to bar DEI offices that “promote differential treatment” and make employment “color-blind and s*x neutral.”

Kuempel’s initial amendment opposed Tyler Republican Rep. Matt Schaefer’s attempt to reinstate Senate language.

The state must audit colleges every four years, and university lawyers or the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board must approve DEI policies, training, and programs. Schools have 180 days to resolve bill violations or lose state funds. Students and staff can sue universities that violate this law.

It also removed Kuempel’s Senate bill revisions that would have allowed DEI programs to comply with federal funds and accrediting bodies, a move is seen as an attempt to moderate the Senate’s more harsh version. Instead, the House measure allows employees to submit comments about aiding first-generation college students, low-income students, and underrepresented students when seeking for grants or complying with accrediting agencies.

KSAT 12 tweeted that Texas could become the second state in the country after Florida to ban diversity, equity, and inclusion offices in higher education. You can see below:

The House adopted that change, but Democrats kept adding amendments until Republicans found a way to alter the law to their satisfaction. The Senate version would have required universities to close their diversity offices, ban mandatory diversity training, and prohibit hiring departments from requesting diversity statements from job applicants. The Senate amended its measure to exempt course instruction, faculty research, student groups, guest speakers, data collecting, and admissions.

Throughout the legislative session, faculty have cautioned lawmakers that if this measure passes, public colleges may lose federal and private funds because they frequently require applicants to demonstrate diversity and justice in their work.

The House’s version of a plan to reform academic tenure at public colleges was delayed on Thursday by Democrats’ point of order that the bill analysis was deceptive. That measure has passed the House Higher Education Committee again, but it has not yet been scheduled for the House floor. Senate legislation need House preliminary approval by Tuesday.

Stay tuned to read more exciting news on our website, kerrvillebreakingnews.com.

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