Anti-DEI bill failed to pass Kentucky legislature

The bill would have fought back against “discriminatory concepts” in higher education.

Multiple other states have introduced or passed legislation limiting DEI in their public colleges and universities.

A Kentucky bill that would have limited Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts at public universities and colleges has failed to pass in the state legislature. 

The bill, SB 6, which is similar to measures in other states, would have stopped schools from penalizing students, employees, and applicants because of their rejection of “discriminatory concepts,” and prevented state colleges and universities from imposing mandatory trainings that teach “discriminatory concepts,” among other measures. 

The bill defined “discriminatory concepts” as including the ideas that “[o]ne . . . race or sex is inherently superior or inferior to another race or sex” and that “[a]n individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously.” 

[RELATED: More colleges are seeking to institutionalize DEI through rubrics, diversity statements]

State Senate Majority Whip Mike Wilson introduced the bill this January. The Kentucky Senate passed the legislation in February, as Campus Reform reported at the time. 

The bill failed this March after the Kentucky House and Senate were not able to resolve differences regarding the bill.

Explaining the bill’s demise, Sen. Wilson told Campus Reform: “After the significant changes made by the House, the Senate did not have the necessary support in this chamber to pass the legislation at that time. Both SB 6 and HB9 are two very different bills and there was concern that the version passed by the house was more susceptible to Legal challenge.”

Sen. Wilson also explained why he introduced the bill, telling Campus Reform: “DEl policies have driven a wedge [between] students and employees in our public universities. No one person should feel compelled to sign onto DEl policies as a condition of acceptance as a student into a university or for employment by that university.”

Even had the bill passed both houses of the state legislature, it may have been vetoed by Democratic Governor Andy Beshear, who said that DEI “is about loving each other. . . . It’s about living out the Golden Rule. . . . Diversity will always make us stronger. It is an asset and never a liability,” according to WDRB

[RELATED: Proposed 2025 Biden budget would increase DEI funding in education]

Beshear had previously criticized the legislature’s anti-DEI efforts–including Wilson’s legislation–accusing such DEI opponents of creating a “bogeyman,” the Lexington Herald-Leader wrote

Kentucky’s anti-DEI bill wasn’t the only one of its kind. This March, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill banning “divisive concepts” in higher education. Also this March, a Pennsylvania state representative introduced legislation banning DEI classes and trainings at the state’s universities. 

Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas also all adopted anti-DEI measures focused on higher education in 2023.