Home » Utah passes a bill banning diversity programs in government and on campuses

Utah passes a bill banning diversity programs in government and on campuses

by NBC News

Utah’s legislature became the latest in the U.S. to pass a bill Friday prohibiting diversity training, hiring and inclusion programs at universities and in state government.

The bill that cleared the state House and Senate by wide margins now heads to Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican who has said he is likely to sign such a bill into law.

Headed into the final year of his first term as governor, Cox has shifted right on “diversity, equity and inclusion.” After vetoing a ban on transgender students playing in girls sports in 2022 (which the legislature overrode), Cox signed a bill in 2023 regulating discussion of race and religion in public schools to ban, for example, the teaching that anybody can be racist merely because of their race.

“I can assure you, after this legislative session, it will not be happening in the state of Utah, these diversity statements that you have to sign to get hired,” Cox said in a Dec. 20 news conference.

Such initiatives are “awful, bordering on evil,” he added.

Under the Utah bill, universities and government would not be allowed to have offices dedicated to promoting diversity. They also could not require employees to submit statements of commitment to DEI.

“It ensures academic freedom on university campuses where all voices will be heard,” the bill’s Senate sponsor, Republican Keith Grover, said shortly before Thursday’s final 23-6 Senate vote in favor of the bill.

The chamber’s six Democrats voted against it. Among them was Sen. Luz Escamilla, who cited statistics showing much lower college enrollment rates for Native American, Hispanic and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students compared to white students.

“Our numbers don’t match our actual demographics,” Escamilla said. “If Utah’s enrollment is not even close to where we need to be, we’re failing and this is not the solution.”

Last year, Republican-led Florida and Texas were first to enact broad-based laws banning diversity, equity and inclusion…

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