Texas follows Florida in ditching diversity offices at public colleges and universities

The Texas state House voted 83-60 to get rid of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) offices at colleges and universities supported by the state.

The bill, SB 17,  was passed last…

The Texas state House voted 83-60 to get rid of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) offices at colleges and universities supported by the state.

The bill, SB 17,  was passed last month in the Senate and will head back to that chamber after House amendments were made.

Previously, the Senate passed its own version of the bill, which Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick promised was one of his chief priorities for the session.

“The woke left’s drive to divide Texans is never-ending,” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a statement when the Senate version passed in April. “Today, the Texas Senate passed SB 17 to ban divisive DEI offices and hiring practices at our universities to make sure that individual merit and achievement are rewarded.”

The House version of the bill would also ban higher education institutions in the state from requiring DEI statements and DEI trainings, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

The bill also contains provisions to reassign employees of DEI offices to other positions within the public university system at similar salaries, said Fox News. 

“What this bill does is make sure that we can actually accomplish our goal of promoting diversity rather than using diversity to create a narrow, closed-minded environment,” said Republican Rep. John Kuempel, chair of the House Committee on Higher Education, according to the Statesman.  

Under an amendment offered by Democrats, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board would be required to do an annual audit about “recruitment and retention for college students,” presumably based on race, reported the Statesman.  

Just a week ago, Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that would ban all DEI funding for programs throughout Florida’s public university system.  

“In reality, what this concept of DEI has been is intended to impose orthodoxy on the university and not even necessarily in the classroom, but through the administrative apparatus of the university itself and that manifests itself in a number of different ways,” DeSantis said about the Florida ban, according to local News 6 Orlando. “But this has basically been used as a veneer to impose an ideological agenda and that is wrong.” 

Together Florida and Texas represent nearly 80 public universities and colleges, with a combined total enrollment of over 2.1 million students. 

That represents about 11 percent of the 19.5 million students who attended colleges and universities (public or private) in the U.S. in 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Education.   

The Texas Senate must now decide whether it will approve the amended bill, with its concessions, or send another version back to the Texas House.