Austin, Texas – The Texas House of Representatives voted today to pass Senate Bill 17 (S.B. 17), a bill that prohibits diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) offices and policies at public colleges and universities in the state. The measure forbids faculty, students, and staff from receiving critical training and services that help to prevent potentially discriminatory action that could disadvantage students who come from historically marginalized backgrounds.
S.B. 17 expands on Senate Bill 3, the K-12 Texas anti-truth law passed in 2021, by targeting public colleges and universities and is the latest legislation to target inclusive public education in Texas.
A group of civil rights and education advocacy organizations expressed grave concerns about the passage of S.B. 17, and issued the following statement:
“We condemn the Texas House of Representative’s passage of S.B. 17. The implementation of this misguided measure would be devastating for generations of Texans from all backgrounds. If enacted, S.B. 17 will undermine the ability of educators and administrators to create a diverse and welcoming campus and threaten the quality of higher education in Texas as a whole. This legislation threatens to eliminate critical tools still needed to advance educational equity and will negatively impact student outcomes, such as retention and graduation rates for Black students, Latinx students and students from other underrepresented communities.
DEI offices and policies are key tools to mitigate and address ongoing racial and gender inequalities that will flourish without intentional measures to create inclusive educational environments. DEI initiatives are essential to supporting campus cultures wherein all students, faculty, and staff feel welcome. All students in Texas are entitled to a learning environment in which they can thrive. We will continue to advocate for faculty, staff, and students to fully participate in an equitable and inclusive education.”
This statement was signed by the following organizations:
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.