Texas Lawmakers Reject Progress and Embrace Discriminatory Practices as Bill Banning Higher Ed DEI is Signed by Governor

June 15, 2023

CONTACT: Emily Witt, [email protected]

AUSTIN, Texas — SB 17, which will prevent public colleges and universities in Texas from having diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) offices or policies, was yesterday signed by Governor Abbott. 

The bill also prohibits hiring practices that take into account race, gender identity, or ethnicity in accordance with applicable state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

Texas Freedom Network Organizing Strategist Emerald Belmarez (she/her) issued the following response​:

“Every Texas student, no matter the color of their skin, their family’s financial resources, or the zip code they grew up in, deserves to feel represented, safe, and welcome in Texas’ institutions of higher education. In a majority-minority state like ours, the consequences of SB 17 will be devastating. Texas public universities have a long history of discrimination. Diversity, equity, and inclusion practices ensure that institutions that were not designed to serve minority students can be welcoming today — thanks to DEI, our public universities are more diverse than ever, and allow for students of all racial and economic backgrounds to thrive.  

“In rolling back DEI initiatives and programs, Governor Abbott is reopening a dark chapter in Texas’ discriminatory history. We denounce this attempt to strip protections that ensure students of color have access to the highest caliber of public higher education, and we will keep up the fight to uphold DEI policies that reflect the student bodies served by Texas’ public institutions of higher learning.”