88th LegislatureEducationTexas Legislator Files Prohibition Against Higher Education Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Offices

The legislation is part of a broader rebuke of public universities and the curriculum themes they've been accused of professing.
December 20, 2022
A ban on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) offices within institutions of higher education has been filed in the Texas House.

State Representative-elect Carl Tepper (R-Lubbock) filed House Bill (HB) 1006 that requires higher education institutions in Texas to “foster a diversity of viewpoints [and] maintain political, social, and cultural neutrality.”

The teeth of the bill command these universities to “demonstrate a commitment to intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” by eliminating DEI offices or anything like them “beyond what is necessary to uphold the equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

It also allows anyone to bring forth civil action against an entity for violation of the prohibition, something Tepper confirmed was modeled after a similar mechanism within the Texas Heartbeat Act.

Additionally, the definition of “expressive activities” protected under state law is expanded to include “published or unpublished faculty research, lectures, writings, and commentary.”

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Tepper told The Texan, “These offices have been out of control for a while now and people are getting really frustrated with them.”

“When it comes to public dollars, I think it’s pretty clear that we must be viewpoint neutral.”

State Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City), chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, criticized the proposal, saying, “Our Texas students are the bedrock of our efforts towards progress.”

“This session should be focused on providing them more resources, not taking them away. DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) is essential to continue cultivating environments where all students and faculty feel represented and supported.”

Tepper added that “people are fed up with bias in education” and said that he’s planning to file similar proposals to prohibit DEI-like entities from mandating institutional racism-type instruction to public employees.

“I wasn’t sure of the reception this was going to have but I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback, including from legislators.”

Neither the University of Texas nor Texas A&M University responded to inquiries.

This bill falls under the broader issue of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s proposal to remove or “phase out” tenure for university professors found to be “teaching critical race theory” — a plan met with skepticism from Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont).

Last session, Patrick led an effort to establish the Liberty Institute at the University of Texas — intended to provide a right-leaning, free market-focused policy voice at UT. But a year after it was originally passed, no movement had been made, and the original organizers of the center said that university officials “sabotaged” the project.

Also in 2021, the Texas Legislature passed a prohibition against teaching critical race theory in public schools; to date, there is disagreement on whether that law is even working as intended. On the campaign trail, Gov. Greg Abbott indicated that he still isn’t satisfied with the state’s restriction against critical race theory.

“We will make sure to eliminate wokeism from public schools,” he said in October. “Beto will allow critical race theory to be taught in public schools…I will not allow our taxpayer dollars to go toward teaching our kids to hate our history.”

The topic was a main driver in many school board campaigns across the state, in which the conservative critics of critical race theory-imbued curriculum nearly swept the races.

Tepper and the rest of the new legislative faces will take office on January 10, at which point the five-month period to pass legislation begins.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.