Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed an anti-discrimination executive order prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in higher education and state agencies.
The state now joins others, such as Iowa, Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, that are working to keep tax dollars from promoting DEI’s Marxist and racist dogma.
In a statement the governor said:
In Oklahoma, we’re going to encourage equal opportunity, rather than promising equal outcomes. Encouraging our workforce, economy, and education systems to flourish means shifting focus away from exclusivity and discrimination, and toward opportunity and merit. We’re taking politics out of education and focusing on preparing students for the workforce.
The executive order says that “state agencies and institutions for higher education shall not utilize state funds, property, or resources” to fund DEI “positions, departments, activities, procedures, or programs” that “grant preferential treatment” based on “race, color, sex, ethnicity or national origin.”
It forbids programs mandating training and education that treat people preferentially based on “race, color, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.”
DEI has its roots in “neo-Marxist identity theories like critical race theory,” explains James Lindsay in a series of videos, “The Marxist Roots of DEI,” from New Discourses. Lindsay, the author of Cynical Theories and Counter Wokecraft, says:
Equity is the goal of all DEI programs, which is to say that DEI programs exist to force captive audiences of people to achieve “equitable” redistribution of resources, status, and wealth. …
Equity is an administered political economy in which shares are adjusted so that citizens are made equal, including shares of social and cultural capital. In other words, it’s an expansion of socialism [emphasis in original].
In a PragerU video, “The DEI Disaster,” political commentator Christian Watson explains how the terms Diversity, Equity and Inclusion have been hijacked by the left:
Diversity used to mean that people of different backgrounds were free to join a group or association.
Equity used to mean enforcing equal standards for all individuals and groups.
Inclusion used to mean allowing people of every background and identity to participate in a group or association.
Now, in their DEI context, these words all mean one thing: applying unequal standards to ensure preferential outcomes for individuals and groups based on race, sex, and gender identity [emphasis in original].
Author and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Christopher Rufo called the state’s move a win for his campaign to stop DEI in businesses, schools and government agencies, posting on X:
WINNING: Oklahoma @GovStitt has signed an executive order abolishing the DEI bureaucracy in all public universities. That makes Florida, Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma. And we are just getting started. pic.twitter.com/fYXphLMQJ2
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) December 13, 2023
Iowa passed legislation banning critical race theory in state agencies and public schools in June 2021, and the groundswell grew, as more states push back against DEI programs.
The left-leaning Chronicle of Higher Education, on the other hand, decried the trend to stop the ideologies stranglehold on public colleges and universities, in a series titled “The Assault on DEI.” In July 2023, the left-leaning outlet reported that legislators introduced 40 bills in 22 states prohibiting colleges and universities from having DEI offices or staff; mandatory diversity training; or “from using race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in admissions or employment.”
In Tennessee a bill was signed into law ending “mandatory implicit-bias training.” In North Carolina, the legislature overrode a veto to pass legislation banning “diversity statements at state agencies, the University of North Carolina, and community colleges.” North Dakota banned “mandatory diversity training and the use of diversity statements.”
Florida prohibited the use of funds that “advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion; or promote or engage in political or social activism.” The law also forbids state universities from using diversity, equity, and inclusion statements, critical race theory, or other forms of political identity filters as part of the hiring process.”
In Texas, the 2024-2025 state budget included a provision banning “diversity, equity, and inclusion practices or programs, including training, that do not comply with sections of the state constitution regarding equality under the law based on characteristics such as sex and race.” Texas also banned “diversity, equity, and inclusion offices and staff, diversity statements, giving preference based on characteristics such as race or sex, and mandatory diversity training at public colleges.”
Patrice Onwuka, director of Independent Women’s Forum’s Center for Economic Opportunity, applauded the Oklahoma measure, explaining the damage from DEI policies. She said they give students “a sense of entitlement driven by victimhood,” adding:
Race, ethnicity, gender, and heritage should not be used to discriminate against any person. Yet, discriminatory DEI programming has done damage on college campuses – fomenting division between students, eroding free speech rights, threatening academic freedom, and bloating school bureaucracies, which in turn drives up tuition costs.
Every student deserves a campus free from discrimination. Thankfully, legal protections already outlaw race-and sex-based discrimination, but this executive order guards against efforts to bypass those protections.
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Image credit: Oklahoma Governor J. Kevin Stitt’s office