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Utah Legislature passes bill to ban DEI programs at schools and in government

The Utah Legislature Friday joined the growing list of lawmakers across the nation acting to ban diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

Lawmakers passed a bill that would prohibit institutions of higher education, the public education system, and government employers from “taking certain actions and engaging in discriminatory practices,” including DEI programs.

It would ban “requiring an individual, before, during, or after admission or employment, to provide certain submissions or attend certain training that promotes differential treatment.”

Republican Gov. Spencer Cox is expected to sign the bill into law.

“I can assure you, after this legislative session, it will not be happening here in the state of Utah, these diversity statements that you have to sign to get hired,” Cox said during his monthly news conference in December

“It’s bordering on evil, that we’re forcing people into a political framework before they can even apply for a job, by the state,” Cox said.

Proponents say DEI policies and programs say they combat inequality by encouraging multiculturalism and providing resources for people of different backgrounds.

DEI under fire

Conservative lawmakers claim DEI efforts are a form of indoctrination.

Florida’s Board of Governors voted Wednesday to ban state spending on DEI programs across public universities.

More than a dozen state legislatures have introduced or passed bills reining in DEI programs in colleges and universities, claiming they cost too much and don’t make much impact.

Last month, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents voted to cut back diversity initiatives in exchange for state funding in a deal with GOP lawmakers.

Also last month, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an executive order defunding DEI offices and programs in public colleges.

CNN’s Carlos Suarez and Denise Royal contributed to this report.

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