Louisiana Lawmakers Reject Resolution That Opponents Say Target Diversity, Equity Efforts in Schools

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Republicans in Louisiana rejected a resolution Wednesday that sought to request K-12 schools and institutions of higher education submit a report of all programs and activities related to critical race theory and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Authored by Republican Rep. Valarie Hodges, the resolution came before the House Committee of Education for consideration and stemmed from “concerns” about how much money is being spent specifically on the programs and because “activities offered by the state’s education institutions merit further examination.”

Proponents argued that the measure was simply being proposed to further look into the cost of the programs. Opponents of the resolution, which included Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, said that the legislation was unnecessary and worried about how it defined DEI — diversity, equity and inclusion — and critical race theory.

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“At its core, this is a racist instrument,” Monty Sullivan, the president of the Louisiana Community & Technical College System, told lawmakers on the state’s House Committee of Education Wednesday.

“Forget the money,” Democratic Rep. Tammy Phelps said to Hodges. “What is your problem with inclusion?”

The House committee ultimately voted to kill the resolution on a 6-5 vote, with two Republican lawmakers joining Democrats to defer the measure.

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The resolution was one of more than 30 proposed legislative measures introduced this year targeting DEI efforts in education, largely by GOP lawmakers in at least a dozen states.

Across the country, the controversial pieces of legislation are the latest flashpoint in a cultural battle around race, ethnicity and gender that has been amplified by prominent Republicans, including former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The bills are an outgrowth of recent attempts to limit critical race theory, a viewpoint that racism is historically systemic in the nation’s institutions and continues today to maintain the dominance of white people in society.

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump issued an order banning training involving “divisive concepts” about race for government employees and contractors. Similarly, DeSantis last year signed the so-called “Stop WOKE” law, which bars businesses, colleges and K-12 schools from providing training on certain racial concepts. Courts have currently blocked the law’s enforcement in colleges, universities and businesses.

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