Alabama Republicans Pass Expansive Legislation Targeting D.E.I.

Alabama Republicans pushed through a sprawling measure on Tuesday that would not only ban state funding for diversity, equity and inclusion programs at public universities, local boards of education and government agencies, but also limit the teaching of “divisive concepts” surrounding race, gender and identity.

The bill passed with broad support in the State Legislature, but faced vehement opposition from student groups, civil rights advocates and Democrats who said it was a chilling attempt to undercut free speech and diversity efforts, especially given Alabama’s history of educational segregation and racism.

The bill also forbids public universities and colleges from allowing transgender people to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

With the legislation, Alabama lawmakers join a broad, right-wing campaign that has targeted D.E.I. programs and initiatives, and has sought to roll back or limit efforts to expand racial diversity on college campuses across the country.

But the debate has been particularly fraught in Alabama. Democratic legislators there underscored their opposition by invoking the state’s past, including when Gov. George Wallace made a “stand in the schoolhouse door” to prevent Black men from enrolling in the University of Alabama.

And at least one Democratic elected official suggested, despite his allegiance to Alabama football, that student athletes should consider looking elsewhere.

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