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Alabama DEI ban heads to governor’s desk

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(The Center Square) — The Alabama Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would ban “divisive concepts of diversity” at public universities and community colleges, local school boards and state agencies.

The measure targets offices at higher education campuses devoted to diversity, equity and inclusion programs that critics say promote division. It also prevents institutions from researching, collecting data, recruiting, or offering academic support or health care services to individuals based on any specific demographic.

Lawmakers carved out taxpayer-supported student groups, as well as publicly funded workers and contractors that answer questions about diversity concepts as part of their job duties.

Any training or instruction ordered by a federal court would also not be constrained by the bill if it becomes law.

The measure defines divisive concepts as the superiority or inferiority of any race, color, sex, ethnicity or national origin; discrimination against individuals based on those concepts; judgements of moral character based on those characteristics and whether one should be made to feel guilty or a need to apologize based on those attributes.

Student groups assailed the bill at a protest in Montgomery on March 6. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin likewise blasted the proposal in a Feb. 21 post on Facebook.

“Although I’m the biggest Bama fan, I have no problem organizing Black parents and athletes to attend other institutions outside of the state where diversity and inclusion are prioritized,” he said. “If supporting inclusion becomes illegal in this state, hell, you might as well stand in front of the school door like Governor Wallace.”

Adam Kissel, the Visiting Fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy, gave the bill mixed grades in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Anti-DEI bill SB 129 in Alabama is worth signing although I give it a 6/10,” Kissel said. “The exceptions swallow the rule — especially the exception for anything in ‘furtherance’ of satisfying an accreditation standard. Much else is missing. But at least the worst DEI abuses are banned. Alabama legislators should have followed the Texas language or Manhattan Institute language.”

The bill now heads to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk. If signed into law, it would go into effect on Oct. 1.

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