Whether it’s the Supreme Court’s recent decision to gut affirmative action or threats made against companies that take race into account in their hiring practices — the war on DEI is clearly heating-up. In August, six California community college professors filed a lawsuit to halt the state’s new rules on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility.
In their lawsuit, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression argued that the new rules violated their First Amendment rights, by pressuring faculty to promote anti-racism. “The DEIA Rules forsake debate for top-down conformity, requiring faculty to endorse contested concepts such as “anti-racism...California Community Colleges’ new rules use the heavy hand of the government not to encourage debate about diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility policies, but end it,” argues the lawsuit. The lawsuit also raises concerns about how this could impact tenure and employment for professors who don’t comply.
To take us back a step, the new guidelines were issued with the intention of including DEIA and antiracist principles into the curriculum and culture of community colleges in the state — which overwhelmingly serve students of color. It’s not clear where this lawsuit will go, but it could have a very real impact on the 1.8 million students in the California Community College system, who like we’ve mentioned are mostly people of color.
The debate over whether companies and schools should be intentionally working towards being more inclusive places for people of color certainly won’t be settled by this one lawsuit. The Root has reported extensively on lawsuits going after diversity efforts in higher education, venture capitol investing, Fortune 100 companies, and even high schools. And as far as we can tell, these lawsuits are only going to keep coming.