Amidst the ongoing wave of states passing anti-truth legislation, and with the recent passage of SB 17 (an anti-DEI bill) and SB 18 (an anti-tenure bill) in the Texas legislature, LDF sent a letter this afternoon signed by our president and director-counsel Janai Nelson to Governor Abbott urging him to veto the bills.

The letter goes on to detail our opposition to the bills, chiefly that they will harm both public colleges’ and universities’ abilities to foster inclusive communities for students of various backgrounds and potentially inhibit the recruitment and retainment of faculty of color. While noting the recent passage of the CROWN Act, it also highlights the irony and tension at play where enacting, “Senate Bill 18 would result in a Texas education system where a Black faculty member’s hair formation has more protection under Texas law than their ability to truthfully teach the history of Black anti-Black hair discrimination and other history of the racial discrimination.”

An additional warning the letter notes is that, “[A]ttacks on academic freedom and tenure threaten the accreditation status of Texas colleges and universities and the federal funding that they cannot do without.”

Read the full letter here.


Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.