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Texas to Limit Diversity Equity and Inclusion Training at State Public Colleges

Texas to Limit Diversity Equity and Inclusion Training at State Public Colleges

In a sweeping effort aimed at reducing the influence and impact of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at Texas public colleges, Governor Greg Abbott has signed Senate Bill 17 into law. The new law, among other important items, prohibits state higher education institutions from maintaining DEI offices and from conducting mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion training. According to the state legislature that passed the law, the bill prohibits institutions from “endorsing an ideology that promotes the different treatment of an individual or group of individuals based on race, color, or ethnicity.” The law is set to take effect on January 1, 2024.

SB 17 is being compared to a similar Florida law that is set to defund DEI programs at Florida State public colleges, as well as the now famous Stop Woke Act enacted in that state last year. Amidst heavy criticism from lawmakers in several states, these laws seek to restrict public colleges from what many conservatives feel is imparting a certain ideology on students and employees within those institutions. Syntrio takes no position on the politics of such laws, but does note that we have found diversity, equity and inclusion training to be a spoke of a greater wheel of workplace culture (and analogously higher education community) improvement education.

DEI training undoubtedly should be aimed at providing equal opportunities for all employees and students without regard to race, sex, sexual orientation, disability status, or any other protected category. By combining education on an understanding of our diverse characteristics with training on the pitfalls of employment discrimination and its relationship to harassment, we believe there is the opportunity to open the minds of the workforce and student bodies to the biases we all have. Therefore, restricting access to positive DEI training that is not ideologically based, but aimed at tolerance of individuals of all backgrounds (not just protected classes) is critical to improving workplace culture.

Some have opined that laws such as the Texas law limiting diversity equity and inclusion practices at public colleges and universities will “perpetuate the cycle of intolerance and discrimination.” While it is certainly true that knowledge is power, and educating individuals about our different social upbringing, culture, nationality, and background will always allow for a greater understanding of one another (as well as innovation), it is also understandable that a large portion of the population does not want to be subjected to what they feel are attempts to “force” certain considerations into the employment and or selection process as opposed to using what they feel are “merit-based” considerations in making decisions on employment or student selection. Hence, there is a dilemma as to how to best balance these competing considerations.

Trust Syntrio to Navigate Mandatory Training Requirements

Syntrio strongly believes that its method of educating workforces and institutions of higher learning on diversity, equity and inclusion takes into consideration all opinions on the subject. Our training is aimed at educating everyone to respect all viewpoints, cultures, races, sexes, and any diverse characteristic one may possess so as to understand where people are coming from and better make decisions that are irrespective of our inherent biases for or against certain people. We strive to ensure that no political or other ideology is fostered via our training courses, and are wholly objective in vetting those courses by individuals of a variety of viewpoints and backgrounds. For this reason, we feel strongly that our courses enhance the culture and respect we should all have for one another and believe that restrictive laws limiting the ability to teach on such topics may have good intentions, but can often miss the mark. For this reason, we encourage you to continue providing quality education on this important topic to members of your workforce in those jurisdictions where doing so is unlimited by law or policy.

Need Help Understanding Your States Legal Training Requirements?

Since 2007, Jonathan has practiced labor and employment law on behalf of management. Jonathan focuses his practice on advising employers on the prevention of harassment and discrimination issues, with an emphasis on providing in-person harassment training programs to companies of all sizes. Jonathan is licensed in California, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and maintains a national advice practice.

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