Last week, a federal judge temporarily halted the enforcement of the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) regulations imposed by the California Community Colleges.
The DEI rules require employees to demonstrate “proficiency in diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility,” according to a memo from California Community Colleges leaders. U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher D. Baker from the Eastern District of California cited potential conflicts with the First Amendment in his decision to suspend these rules.
“Although Defendants’ aim of promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in California’s system of community colleges undoubtedly is important and Defendants are entitled to encourage their employees to embrace these tenets, Plaintiff has shown a likelihood of success on the merits that the regulatory scheme Defendants have put in place to advance these interests is contrary to the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech in the academic arena,” the injunction reads.
In June, Professor Daymon Johnson from Bakersfield Community College filed a lawsuit, claiming that his colleague, Matthew Garrett, was dismissed due to the expression of his political beliefs. The lawsuit sought an injunction against the DEI rules that led to his colleague’s dismissal.
In response to the decision, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office told the Daily Caller, “We strongly disagree with the recommendation by the magistrate and will have a more detailed response within the next 14 days…It is well established that faculty and staff proficient in diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility creates a safer, more inclusive, and more effective learning environment for all students in a system as large and diverse as the California Community Colleges.”
A separate lawsuit was also filed in August by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression on behalf of six professors, aiming to prevent the state from compelling them to integrate DEI rules into their classrooms. FIRE asserts that over 54,000 professors in California community colleges must adhere to mandates requiring them to integrate “anti-racist” perspectives into their teaching. Further, the legal organization argues that faculty performance and tenure assessments will be influenced by how well professors promote the government’s viewpoints, infringing upon professors’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
“These regulations are a totalitarian triple-whammy,” said FIRE attorney Daniel Ortner in a statement. “The government is forcing professors to teach and preach a politicized viewpoint they do not share, imposing incomprehensible guidelines, and threatening to punish professors when they cross an arbitrary, indiscernible line.”
DEI imposes a dangerous, anti-Christian agenda on many universities and businesses, placing “gender identity,” sexual orientation, and race at the forefront. The Washington Examiner explains that DEI programs tell “young adults that the only thing that matters about them is their skin color, their gender, or their sexual orientation. DEI programs divide those students, tell them they are either permanently oppressed no matter what they do in life or that they are evil oppressors who must atone for their sins based on their immutable characteristics, and then send them off to the real world to peddle that toxic, divisive, dehumanizing worldview.” Taxpayer dollars should not be funding these ideologically-driven programs across the state.
Several states have enacted laws prohibiting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices or have launched investigations into their implementation in public universities. While the enforcement of these rules has been temporarily halted, more needs to be done to keep such divisive policies out of California colleges. It’s time to protect the free speech rights of college professors by removing DEI programs from higher education altogether.