New Alabama Law Prohibits Teaching DEI at Public Schools

Faith Perkins | March 27, 2024

(The Lion) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill restricting the teaching of “divisive concepts” and limiting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs at public schools, universities and state agencies.

“My Administration has and will continue to value Alabama’s rich diversity, however, I refuse to allow a few bad actors on college campuses – or wherever else for that matter – to go under the acronym of DEI, using taxpayer funds, to push their liberal political movement counter to what the majority of Alabamians believe,” Ivey stated, according to WVTM13.

“We have already taken action to prevent this in our K-12 classrooms, and I am pleased to sign SB129 to protect our college campuses,” she continued. “Supporting academic freedom, embracing diversity of cultures and backgrounds and treating people fairly are all key components of what we believe in Alabama, and I am more than confident that will continue.” 

Senate Bill 129 protects students and government employees from retaliation for refusing to “support, believe, endorse, embrace, confess, or otherwise assent to a divisive concept or diversity statement.”  

It also requires students at public colleges and universities to use restrooms that align with their biological sex. 

Bill sponsor Sen. Will Barfoot, R-District 25, said the legislation is an attempt to pull divisive languages out of classrooms. 

“Higher education must return to its essential foundations of academic integrity and the pursuit of knowledge instead of being corrupted by destructive ideologies,” Barfoot said, reported NBC News

However, American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama claimed the bill was a form of classroom censorship. 

“This bill is intended to have a chilling effect on discourse regarding race, class, sexuality, and national origin, and seeks to characterize these discussions and accurate teachings, assignments, and trainings that also supplement them as ‘divisive,’” the legal advocacy groupwrote in a statement

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin even took to social media to discourage black athletes from attending Alabama universities because of the new law. 

But Barfoot contends the diversity and inclusion agenda is actually dividing people, and not truly inclusive.  

“This legislation will build bridges to celebrate what people have in common,” he said, “not erect walls that silo people into the idea that their race, religion, and sexual orientation solely define who they are and how society should view them.” 

SB 129 will take effect on Oct. 1.