Texas for Truth in Education

The right to receive a truthful and inclusive education at public colleges and universities across Texas is under attack.

Texas legislators have filed three bills — “Banning Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Higher Education” S.B. 16), “Banning Discriminatory ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’ (DEI) Policies in Higher Education” (S.B. 17), and “Eliminating Tenure at General Academic Institutions” (S.B. 18) — that could prohibit the teaching and training on concepts related to race, religion, politics, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation and ending tenure and academic freedom at public colleges and universities across Texas. These bills seek to expand upon Senate Bill 3, the K-12 Texas anti-truth law passed in 2021, by targeting public colleges and universities. The impacts of Senate Bill 3 have been felt throughout the state and have created chilling effects for educators who fear punishment for teaching about historical events such as slavery or the Holocaust and its vestiges that manifest throughout current forms of discrimination today.

Truthful and inclusive discussions about United States and Texas history – like the Guerrero Decree, Juneteenth, the Slocum and Porvenir Massacres, Jim Crow laws and segregation – and their connection to present-day inequalities are essential to accurate and quality academic instruction.

Students deserve access to safe, healthy, and inclusive campus communities. Positive school climates must be free from discrimination.

What You Need to Know about the bills

What does S.B. 17 do?

Status: Passed. S.B. 17 took effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

S.B. 17 took effect on Jan. 1, 2024. S.B. 17 prohibits Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies designed to remediate histories of discrimination in the United States and Texas against underrepresented minorities and the ability for professors and administrators to foster more inclusive colleges and universities. For example, S.B. 17 may ban DEI policies that help to cultivate more diverse campus culture and programs that provide leadership and development opportunities for members of historically excluded groups. Additionally, the law may prohibit educators from receiving critical training that help prevent actions and behavior that could inadvertently disadvantage students from historically marginalized backgrounds.

The Texas Legislature deemed that all schools must comply with the law by May 3, 2024. If an institution violates S.B. 17, it will lose state funding for the next fiscal year. A student or employee, if required participate in mandatory diversity training in violation of S.B. 17, may also sue the institution for injunctive or declaratory relief.

What is banned under S.B. 17?

S.B. 17 took effect on Jan. 1, 2024. S.B. 17 prohibits diversity, equity, and inclusion offices and policies in Texas public colleges and universities. Specifically, S.B. 17 prohibits:

The submission and considerations of diversity statements for employment.

The consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in hiring practices.

Mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion training related to race, color, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

The contracting of any of these policies to services to third parties.

What's next for S.B. 17?

On March 26, 2024, Brandon Creighton, Chairman of the Texas Senate Committee on Education, sent a letter to several University Systems regarding S.B. 17.

In May, the Senate Committee on Education will conduct a public hearing that requires the governing board of each institution of higher education or the board’s designee (Texas Education Code subsection 51.3525(f)) to testify before the committee regarding implementation of SB 17. The committee is extending an invitation to each university system’s chancellor and general counsel to provide testimony to the committee.

Chairman Creighton shared five questions that he is requiring representatives to address, in writing by May 3, 2024, and the topics include: 

DEI Office Prohibition

Training Requirement Prohibition

Merit Based Hiring

Diversity Statements

Audit Compliance

Take Action to Protect truth in Education

Every Texas student, no matter the color of their skin, their family’s financial resources, or zip code, deserves to feel represented, safe, and welcome in Texas’ institutions of higher education. Urge your legislators to speak out against SB 17!

Submit Oral or Written Testimony

The Senate Higher Education Subcommittee will hold a hearing next week on Senate Bill 17! The Subcommittee will accept both oral and written testimony from the public about the following agenda item:

“Monitor the Ban on Discriminatory DEI Policies: Examine the implementation of Senate Bill 17, 88th Legislature, which bans discriminatory “DEI” initiatives at institutions of public higher education. Review and report on the progress each institution has made in aligning university policies and procedures with the provisions of Senate Bill 17, ensuring Texas college campuses foster equal opportunity and reward individual merit and achievement.”

Come out and make your voices heard about how Senate Bill 17 has impacted your community!

Date: Tuesday, May 14, 2024
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Place: Texas State Capitol, E1. 016 (Hearing Room)
1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
Chair: Senator Brandon Creighton

Engage on social media: Tweet using #ProTruthTX and #TeachtheTruth

Call or email legislators to speak out against S.B. 17 and save DEI

You can find contact info and email your representatives here.

What does S.B. 18 do?

Status: Passed. S.B. 18 took effect on Sept. 1, 2023.

S.B. 18 took effect on Sept. 1, 2023. The bill prohibits tenure in higher education across Texas, potentially preventing professors from having the freedom to teach in accurate and inclusive ways. Tenure allows professors to teach subjects that implicate a variety of subjects, such as race, gender, and sexuality, without fear of punishment for their ideas. S.B. 18  attacks the bedrock of academic freedom in Texas and disproportionally impact students and professors who are already underrepresented due to historical patterns of exclusion and discrimination.

What is banned under S.B. 18?

S.B. 18 allows institutions to continue to grant tenure to faculty while significantly weakening the protections and benefits of tenure. S.B. 18 weakens tenure through limiting a faculty member’s property interest in tenure to their “regular annual salary,” places the authority to grant tenure is in the hands of those without disciplinary expertise, and contains vague language around just causes for dismissal such as engaging “in unprofessional conduct that adversely affects the institution or the faculty member’s performance of duties or meeting of responsibilities.” 

Diversity is the greatest strength of our multi-racial democracy. SB 17 threatens to eliminate critical tools still needed to advance educational equity and disproportionately harms Black, Latinx, and marginalized students.

Taken together, these bills sought to create an environment that may jeopardize free speech through state censorship, have a chilling effect of self-censorship, and punish faculty and universities that strive to create a space where all people are welcome and their histories are truthfully told.

Despite the failure to enact S.B. 16 and the weakening of S.B. 17 and S.B. 18, Texas students, parents, educators, and residents must remain vigilant and continue to oppose future efforts limit or restrict the truthful teaching of American history, DEI policies designed to foster an inclusive and welcoming environment, and academic freedom to teach in accurate and inclusive ways.

More Pro-Truth Resources

LDF has compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions about Critical Race Theory. Learn more about CRT, laws banning racial justice discourse, and how these fit into a larger effort to suppress the voices, history, and political participation of Black Americans.

LDF's Pro-Truth Work

LDF is at the forefront of the fight to ensure that America lives up to the ideals of justice and equality for all. The right to free expression and the right to vote are cornerstones of our democracy. LDF and coalition partners are fighting back to protect truth. 

LDF Original Content

The War on Truth:

Examining the Recent Rise of Anti-truth Laws

We examine the attacks on ‘Critical Race Theory‘ and efforts to ban books as the latest tactics to halt racial justice.

A historical view of attacks on truth, efforts to silence conversations about our nation’s history and current inequalities, and backlash to racial justice and educational equity.

Attorneys, education experts, and researchers explain why truthful, inclusive education benefits all students and how to make it happen.

Language is Power

How Woke Went From "Black" to "Bad"

The word “woke” has been a signal urging Black people to be aware of the systems that harm and otherwise put us at a disadvantage since the 1920s. Now, it has been co-opted and maligned. This piece explores how the term “woke” has been manipulated and maligned to hold back racial justice progress. 

One way in which truth is attacked is through controlling the narratives told in children’s history textbooks, a practice dating back to the U.S. Civil War. this TMI brief examines the ramifications of attempts by anti-truth groups to remove or whitewash our nation’s history and legacy of racism from K-12 public school classrooms.

Justice Above All Podcast

Outside Influence

The Origins of Anti-CRT Mania

Dr. Kesha Moore unpacks the anti-truth movement and the coordinated attempts to censor the accurate teaching of American history. Justice Above All is joined by Katrina Feldkamp, Assistant Counsel for the Legal Defense Fund and Anya and Raven, two student leaders in the Southlake Anti-Racism Coalition. 

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