(The Center Square) – Several bills have been filed in the Texas legislature to ban “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI) policies from being implemented at higher public institutions and government entities.
Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott’s chief of staff sent a letter to the heads of all state agencies, universities and colleges receiving taxpayer money stating if they were implementing DEI policies they were violating federal law. Many higher education institutions have claimed to halt their respective DEI policies, however a review by The Center Square of some of their policies and language on their websites indicates DEI advocacy is ongoing.
The Texas Senate subcommittee on Higher Education on Thursday advanced SB 16, filed by Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Minneola, that would prohibit public institutions of higher education from compelling their students to adopt certain beliefs.
At a hearing on the bill, Hughes said, it would “establish in statute an express purpose statement for higher education that our institutions should be committed to creating environments where students are equipped for participation in the workforce and society while also respecting intellectual diversity, but not indoctrinating students. It will also prevent any faculty member from compelling or attempting to compel students to adopt a belief that any race, sex, ethnicity, or social, political, or religious belief is inherently superior to any other race, sex, ethnicity, or belief.”
In the House, Rep. Carl Tepper, R-Lubbock, filed several bills to ban public institutions of higher education and government entities from using taxpayer money to “practice woke discrimination, self-segregation and division.”
“Diversity on college campuses is in itself a noble mission, but the practice of reverse discrimination and hostile attacks on contemporary America is counterproductive,” he said in a statement. “Texas public universities have a large minority and international student body; I pray this tradition continues, and I suspect that it will – with or without these offices of questionable mandate. With the exponentially increasing costs of higher education, the State of Texas should cease all wasteful spending on activism that, in practice, exacerbates racial division and disharmony. We are proud Americans and Texans, and public dollars should in no way counter that fundamental viewpoint.”
Tepper filed HB 3164, which has over 20 cosponsors, to amend the Texas education code to prohibit DEI policies. Prohibitions include: “An institution of higher education may not establish or maintain a diversity, equity, and inclusion office or hire or assign an employee of the institution, or contract with a third party, to perform the duties of a diversity, equity, and inclusion office.” Academic course instruction, research, activities of student organizations, guest speakers, physical and mental health services, and other services are also prohibited from advancing DEI policies.
In December, Tepper filed HB 1006 to protect expression, intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at public institutions of higher education. It would amend the state education code to define a range of speech related to activities and require these institutions to maintain political, social and cultural neutrality. It also would prohibit the funding, promotion, sponsorship or support of any DEI office or policies, according to the bill language. It’s been referred to the Higher Education Committee; a hearing hasn’t yet been scheduled.
Tepper also filed HB 1046 to prohibit the use of political tests by public institutions of higher education. It would amend state education code to prohibit an institution of higher education from requiring “an employee or student or an applicant for employment with or admission to the institution, as a condition of employment, promotion, or admission, to identify a commitment to or make a statement of personal belief supporting any specific partisan, political, or ideological set of beliefs, including an ideology or movement that promotes the differential treatment of any individual or group based on race or ethnicity,” including DEI policies, according to the bill language. It’s been referred to the Higher Education Committee; a hearing hasn’t yet been scheduled.
He also filed a similar bill addressing government entities and contracts. HB 1033 would prohibit the use of political tests by governmental entities and certain government contracts. It would amend state government code to prohibit governmental entities from requiring anyone from receiving or participating in training, identifying or making a commitment to a personal belief supporting any specific partisan, political or ideological set of beliefs, including those that encompass DEI, according to the bill language. It’s been referred to the State Affairs Committee; a hearing hasn’t yet been scheduled.