Is Diversity Training Banned?

Over the past year, a new topic has emerged in the world of education: critical race theory. This theoretical framework examines American society with a belief that racism is embedded in U.S. laws and institutions. It seeks to affirm students’ ethnic and racial backgrounds while teaching the most shameful aspects of our history and acknowledging that white privilege very much exists. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has become particularly outspoken about banning critical race theory claiming that its “state-sanctioned racism.” He signed a controversial bill early last year that will drastically limit race education in schools. As of February 2023, he’s now working hard to extend those limitations to diversity training at state colleges. So, on this slippery slope, is diversity training banned now too? 

The History of the Diversity Training Ban 

In 2020, Former President Trump issued a memo telling federal agencies to “stop racial sensitivity training” in the workplace. In 2022, Ron DeSantis took a different tact with a similar intended outcome. He asked all state universities to account for their spending on programs and initiatives related to DEI or critical race theory. He intends to ban all state universities from spending money on these initiatives hoping they will “wither on the vine” without funding. It’s important to note that he’s not only banning government funding but ALL funding to these programs. 

President Biden issued an executive order surrounding the matter in January 2021 when he took office to counteract Trump’s efforts. However, the existing narrative surrounding diversity training bans and DeSantis’ recent actions have recently left people wondering what’s happening. Can politicians make these types of sweeping changes? Whether they can or not, they’re doing that. So, what does it mean for DEI programs and those currently working in the field? 

As of right now, the Individual Freedom Act — also known as the Stop WOKE Act — has been paused after U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Walker issued a preliminary injunction against it. 

While the left is arguing that the law poses a free speech issue that dictates what employees can and cannot talk about in the workplace, the right is claiming that diversity training is creating a “hostile work environment.”  

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the plaintiffs will need to distinguish DEI activities from old-fashion racism — as diversity training can’t possibly be as hostile or intimidating as permitting racist comments in the workplace. 

Yet, even if Florida’s case is resolved favorably for DEI programs, DeSantis isn’t alone. The Associated Press reported that 25 states have now considered legislation or other steps to limit how race and racism can be taught, and limiting access to education is a dangerous game. For online diversity training, there is a lot of resourceful information online. 

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