When President Biden took office, he eliminated the Trump-era executive order banning “divisive concepts” in federally funded diversity training. Now Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country are seeking to implement their own bans against teaching concepts surrounding diversity and anti-racism, which is being defined as critical race theory. States are introducing bills modeled after Trump’s reversed Executive Order (EO) 13950 in which teaching that “one race or sex is inherently superior to one another,” and that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously” should not be conducted in schools and training in state and local government entities. Some of these bills are pending approval, while others are moving swiftly through the legislature.
In Oklahoma and Idaho, bills banning colleges and universities from mandating diversity training and forbidding critical race theory from being taught in K-12 schools have been signed into law. Alongside, Arkansas passed SB 627,which prohibits agencies from teaching employees, contractors, or any other group, “divisive concepts” during racial and cultural sensitivity trainings. Other legislatures, like Iowa, Tennessee, Louisiana, and more recently, Texas, are aiming to pass similar bills.
On May 12, 2021, a group of House Republicans took a step further to limit the conversation surrounding diversity by announcing a pair of federal bills, the Combatting Racist Training in the Military Act and the Stop CRT Act, to prohibit diversity training in the military and federal agencies. The trend for conservative leaders to criticize critical race theory came after Trump ordered the Office Management and Budget to stop funding diversity training in September of 2020 and in the wake of educators using the Pulitzer Prize-winning 2019 New York Times “1619 Project” to teach a more comprehensive history of inequality in the United States.
When Executive Order (EO) 13950 came into effect, AAAED quickly called out its damaging effects to stall the nation’s movement towards diversity and inclusion and joined the lawsuit to fight against the order in National Urban League, et al. v. Trump. Although the order has since been rescinded, it’s left behind a blueprint for states to follow. Their rampant effort to reinforce the order is alarming as these conversations are expanding to a federal level. If more bills modeled after Trump’s order are introduced and passed, it will threaten all the progress the country has made towards advancing the conversation surrounding diversity and inclusion.