SB 202 & HB 9: Anti-Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion Bills Put Kentucky (And Indiana) Students, Families, And Educators At Risk

These bills put federally-protected rights in danger while letting state schools collect federal dollars.

Anti-Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion legislation in Kentucky and Indiana's state legislature is putting higher education at risk for educators, families and students.
Anti-Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion legislation in Kentucky and Indiana's state legislature is putting higher education at risk for educators, families and students.

Across the U.S., the race to end necessary Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs — including scholarships and educational programming — is heating up in states with Republican-led legislature. This puts student access to education at risk while undermining the work of faculty members of color. The bills seek to end any discussions of diversity, along with educational instruction or debate about race.

This week, it was reported that Indiana governor Eric Holcomb refused to meet with civil rights and education leaders in Indiana over the proposed Senate Bill 202 (SB 202). Similar to other DEI bills across the nation, SB 202 focuses on the tenure of university hires and replaces the term “diversity, equity, and inclusion” with “intellectual diversity.”

According to Indianapolis’s MirrorIndy, the governor’s spokesperson said the governor did not refuse to meet and that the group was connected with the legislative director on Friday, as is the typical process for the office.

“Proponents of SB 202 and copycat legislation in other states argue that they are protecting the rights of DEI opponents in danger of being silenced in university communities that value diversity,” The Indiana Capital Chronicle reported. “But those who have lost their jobs and been driven from their communities as a result of the anti-DEI campaign have not been opponents of Critical Race Theory (CRT), but advocates for cultural diversity and racial justice.”

The repercussions of these bills are being felt across the country from Florida to Texas where educators have come under fire and lost their positions for supporting diversity and actively speaking out against these measures.

These measures seek to protect a very specific class of anti-diversity loud-mouth who fears their antiquated colonialist rants aren’t being heard — the death knell of a dying majority.

Republican legislators across the United States are trying to push legislation to silence students, workers and programs that support diversity, equity and inclusivity in higher education. - Screengrab from Kelly Craft "Woke Bureaucrats" ad.
Screengrab from Kelly Craft "Woke Bureaucrats" ad.
Republican legislators across the United States are trying to push legislation to silence students, workers and programs that support diversity, equity and inclusivity in higher education.

SB 202 was sent to Governor Holcomb’s desk this week for signature. On Wednesday, Mar. 6, faculty at Depauw University made a formal opposition statement to SB 202, marking the first time a private university has entered the debate on this bill.

Faculty stated that, “In solidarity with our colleagues at public universities across Indiana, DePauw University faculty oppose Senate Bill 202: dangerous legislation that limits academic freedom, undermines tenure and promotion policies, chills campus speech across the political spectrum, and defunds crucial DEI initiatives.”

At the time of this writing, Governor Holcomb had yet to sign SB 202.

Kentucky has House Bill 9 (HB 9) which more blatantly states its purpose in the fight against diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In Kentucky HB 9 would prohibit postsecondary educational institutions from:

  • Providing differential treatment or benefits on the basis of an individual's religion, race, sex, color, or national origin;

  • From influencing the composition of the student body or scholarship recipients on the basis of religion, race, sex, color, or national origin; from implementing a student housing assignment plan on the basis of religion, race, color, or national origin with designated exceptions;

  • From expending any resources on diversity, equity, and inclusion, the promotion of discriminatory topics, or bias incident investigations;

  • From soliciting statements on an applicant's experience with or views on religion, race, sex, color, or national origin;

  • From requiring a course or training on diversity, equity, and inclusion or discriminatory concepts as a program requirement;

  • From permitting credit from a course dedicated to the promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion or discriminatory concepts to count towards the total number of credits required for a degree or certificate, or disseminating or profiting from any research, work product, or material that promotes or justifies discriminatory concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion; establish exclusions;

Kentucky is another state with a Republican supermajority in the state houses making passage of these bills likely even with a veto by the governor. Kentucky seeks to institute these measures by the end of June.

Republican shenanigans continue to cloud the people’s government houses with bills that work only to sooth the egos of tender white men and women who are afraid that a diverse country renders them obsolete. Instead of realizing that it is their narrow-minded vision of a nation that makes them useless, they are attacking marginalized groups from all spaces using the cloak of “lawmakers” under which to hide. They aren’t working for us, they are creating laws to salve their exposed racist, homophobic, transphobic and backwards underbellies.

For students, educators, parents and other workers in Kentucky and Indiana’s educational systems, these bills present a very dangerous precedent. The federal dollars that are being spent in these institutions, the parents funding, should have all stakeholders furious. At no point should the taxpayer money be used to protect the wrong feelings of cowards who want to keep our country in a state of intellectual and moral decline.

We certainly hope that Holcomb will say no to SB 202 now that it is sitting on his desk. If he doesn’t, he should certainly be man enough to answer to the people that are requesting his time to discuss the damage this bill will do.

If HB 9 makes it to Beshear’s desk, we hope he will veto and force Republicans to stand in front of the people of the state and lay out how they hope to destroy programs that protect federal rights while hoping to collect federal monies.

If ever there was a time that fear and fraud were at work, it is now, across America, throughout the Republican party and Republican-led legislatures.