Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, and other conservative politicians have long argued that critical race theory and DEI programs are racially divisive and discriminatory. They call them “woke” ideology in education. And they’ve put their money where their mouths are, working to ban this education in schools and workplaces.
They aren’t alone either. These aren’t two crazy actors in a system full of sane individuals. An analysis from Education Week shows that at least half of U.S. states have considered legislation or other ways to limit how racism and racism can be taught. Furthermore, 8 states (all Republican-led) have banned or limited the teaching of critical race theory or similar concepts by passing laws or using other administrative actions.
While the bans largely address what can be taught inside the classroom, the next step is what is discussed in the workplace. Here’s what you should know about the threat of diversity training in the workplace, diversity, equity, and inclusion and why it’s occurring.
Donald Trump’s Ban on Diversity Training
In September 2020, Former President Donald Trump first attacked diversity, equity, and inclusion. Via memo, he told federal agencies to “stop racial sensitivity training” because he claimed it fostered resentment in the workplace. Additionally, he claimed that he doesn’t believe in systemic racism or that it was an issue impacting the United States.
Trump’s claim that DEI programs were “divisive, anti-American propaganda” has opened Pandora’s box on the topic. Although President Biden reversed his ban via executive order on his very first day in office in January 2021, the cat was out of the bag. Other states have started reevaluating programs that build awareness of unconscious bias and cultural competence as well as create a comfortable environment for employees to be their authentic selves.
Ron DeSantis’ Ban on Diversity Training
If you’re searching for more information on Ron DeSantis’ recent ban on diversity training, realize that it’s only a piece of the larger puzzle. In February 2023, Ron DeSantis proposed a ban on DEI initiatives in state universities by prohibiting funding. By cutting off their access to money (all money — not just federal funds), DeSantis has said that he hopes that these initiatives will “wither on the vine.”
Why take such a strong stance? The press release released by the governor’s office called DEI programs “discriminatory.” It’s part of the state’s education department’s efforts to reject “‘woke’ diversity, equity, and inclusion and critical race theory ideologies.”
Furthermore, DeSantis has created a workplace ban on diversity training via the Stop WOKE Act. While the law was paused after a district court judge filed a preliminary injunction against it, the state of Florida claims that forcing workers to participate in training creates a hostile work environment.
Time will tell how the Stop WOKE Act holds up in Florida under the law. However, if it’s upheld, then it could set a dangerous precedent for the other 25+ states who are reconsidering their relationship with DEI and limiting the education that children receive as well as the support that employees have in the workplace.