California professors sue to block DEI teaching and tenure mandates
These new regulations amended Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations to include diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility standards in the evaluation and tenure review of employees.
(The Center Square) - The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, better known as FIRE, filed a lawsuit on behalf of six California community college professors to stop statewide regulations adopted in March of 2023 requiring they “espouse and teach politicized conceptions of ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion.’ "
These new regulations amended Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations to include diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility standards in the evaluation and tenure review of employees. According to the lawsuit, this means the more than 54,000 professors who teach within the California community college system will be required to include “anti-racist” perspectives into their teaching. Professors not only would have to write diversity statements and develop “knowledge of the intersectionality of social identities and the multiple axes of oppression that people from different racial, ethnic and other minoritized groups face,” but their performance and tenure would even be evaluated on their commitment and promotion of this viewpoint.
Despite promoting the inclusion of minority voices, the state also warns professors not to “weaponize academic freedom” to “inflict curricular trauma on our students,” suggesting, according to plaintiff Loren Palsgaard, a professor of English at Madera Community College, that mandated viewpoints would not be able to be balanced by competing beliefs.
“Hearing uncomfortable ideas is not ‘curricular trauma,’ and teaching all sides of an issue is not ‘weaponizing’ academic freedom,” said Palsgaard. “That’s just called ‘education.”
In a state-published glossary of DEI terms, California claims color-blindess is a problem because it “perpetuates existing racial inequities and denies systematic racism” and that merit “upholds race-based structural inequality” and “protects White privilege under the guise of standards.”
The Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, the body responsible for approving these new regulations, is a 17-member body appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate.