NAACP Legal Defense Fund Opposes Texas LegislationBreaking News
tags: Texas, censorship, academic freedom, teaching history, critical race theory
Texas legislators have filed three bills — “Banning Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Higher Education” S.B. 16), “Banning Discriminatory ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’ (DEI) Policies in Higher Education” (S.B. 17), and “Eliminating Tenure at General Academic Institutions” (S.B. 18) — that could prohibit the teaching and training on concepts related to race, religion, politics, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation and ending tenure and academic freedom at public colleges and universities across Texas. These bills seek to expand upon Senate Bill 3, the K-12 Texas anti-truth law passed in 2021, by targeting public colleges and universities. The impacts of Senate Bill 3 have been felt throughout the state and have created chilling effects for educators who fear punishment for teaching about historical events such as slavery or the Holocaust and its vestiges that manifest throughout current forms of discrimination today.
Truthful and inclusive discussions about United States and Texas history – like the Guerrero Decree, Juneteenth, the Slocum and Porvenir Massacres, Jim Crow laws and segregation – and their connection to present-day inequalities are essential to accurate and quality academic instruction.
What do the proposed laws seek to do?
S.B. 16 prohibits faculty from compelling students to adopt a belief that any race, sex, or ethnicity or social, political, or religious belief is inherently superior to any other race, sex, ethnicity, or belief at a public institution of higher education. The penalty for violating SB 16 is termination and revocation of tenure, if applicable. SB 16 takes effect September 1, 2023.
S.B. 17 may prohibit Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies designed to remediate histories of discrimination in the United States and Texas against underrepresented minorities and the ability for professors and administrators to foster more inclusive colleges and universities. For example, S.B. 17 could ban DEI policies that help to cultivate more diverse campus culture and programs that provide leadership and development opportunities for members of historically excluded groups. Additionally, the law could also prohibit educators from receiving critical training that help prevent actions and behavior that could inadvertently disadvantage students from historically marginalized backgrounds.
S.B. 18 prohibits tenure in higher education across Texas, potentially preventing professors from having the freedom to teach in accurate and inclusive ways. Tenure allows professors to teach subjects that implicate a variety of subjects, such as race, gender, and sexuality, without fear of punishment for their ideas. S.B. 18 would attack the bedrock of academic freedom in Texas and disproportionally impact students and professors who are already underrepresented due to historical patterns of exclusion and discrimination.