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Florida isn't alone in trying to ban campus diversity programs

Banners on the Hollins University campus urge students to "be open-minded," "act with integrity," and "value diversity and inclusion."
Melissa Block/NPR
Banners on the Hollins University campus urge students to "be open-minded," "act with integrity," and "value diversity and inclusion."

Florida is among 15 other states where lawmakers have filed bills that would ban efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion on college and university campuses.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has launched the DEI Legislation Tracker, which shows the states that have filed bills and whether those measures pass or fail. So far, none of the bills have passed; three have failed.

Reporters at the outlet tracked bills that propose at least one of the following:

  • eliminating DEI offices or staff
  • banning mandatory diversity training
  • prohibiting schools from requiring diversity statements when hiring or promoting employees
  • barring schools from using diversity as a factor in admissions and hiring decisions

Adrienne Lu, a senior reporter at the Chronicle, explained to WFSU News that Florida's HB 999 is "fairly unusual."

"It really goes beyond what we’ve seen I think in almost any other state.”

For instance, legislation filed in the House would ban majors and minors in critical race theory, gender studies and intersectionality, Lu explained. The Senate's version of the bill has removed that provision.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has prioritized banning DEI efforts on campus, boosting his national profile as he gears up for a likely presidential run.

“He’s gained a lot of attention nationwide for his attacks on higher education and saying things like ‘Florida is the place where woke goes to die.’”

The bills seeking to ban DEI initiatives are similar to model legislation put out by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and the Goldwater Institute, two conservative think tanks.

“This effort doesn’t come out of nowhere," Lu said. "Over the last couple of years, there have been bills in about half the states to restrict teaching either in K-12 or in colleges on divisive concepts having to do with race, racism and gender. "

Copyright 2023 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.

Valerie Crowder is a freelance reporter based in Panama City, Florida. Before moving to Florida, she covered politics and education for Public Radio East in New Bern, North Carolina. While at PRE, she was also a fill-in host during All Things Considered. She got her start in public radio at WAER-FM in Syracuse, New York, where she was a part-time reporter, assistant producer and host. She has a B.A. in newspaper online journalism and political science from Syracuse University. When she’s not reporting the news, she enjoys reading classic fiction and thrillers, hiking with members of the Florida Trail Association and doing yoga.