Alabama Bans DEI Programs in Public Colleges and the Teaching of ‘Divisive Concepts’

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill on March 27 making hers the latest state to enact bans on diversity, equity and inclusion programs in public colleges and offices.

SB 129 requires that DEI offices and initiatives funded by public colleges or government agencies be eliminated or vastly changed. It also seeks to minimize teachings around race, gender or identity, which the bill calls called “divisive concepts.” The Republican-led Legislature passed the bill Tuesday over pushback from Democrats. It will go into effect Oct. 1.

The bill classifies “divisive concepts” as assigning “fault, blame or bias” to any race, religion, gender or nationality or teaching that a person is “inherently responsible for actions committed in the past” — indirect references to slavery and who administered it.

The bill also bars transgender people from using public bathrooms that are in step with their gender identities.

Along with Democrats, several groups expressed their opposition to the ban, calling the bill a not-so-veiled attempt to sabotage free speech and equal opportunities for all, including Black people.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin wrote on Facebook last month that he would encourage Black athletes to consider enrolling in colleges outside of Alabama if the bill becomes law. With football being a way of life in the state, particularly at powerhouses like the University of Alabama and Auburn University, it was considered a bold statement.

“Would you be cool with your child playing at schools where diversity among staff is actively being discouraged?” Woodfin wrote. “Although I’m the biggest Bama fan, I have no problem organizing Black parents and athletes to attend other institutions outside of the state where diversity and inclusion are prioritized.”

Republican state Rep. Ed Oliver, the lead sponsor of the House bill, defended it by saying DEI would only “deepen divisions and set up race-exclusionary programs and indoctrinate students into a far-left political ideology.”

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