California Community Colleges system sued for imposing DEI standards on profs

The plaintiffs are represented by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, which alleges that such regulations violate the right to freedom of speech.

California community college instructors are obligated to 'employ teaching, learning, and professional practices that reflect DEIA and anti-racist principles.'

Alarmed by potential restrictions to their free speech rights, some California community college professors are employing the aid of an advocacy group to combat the mandatory teaching of controversial political views in their school systems. 

Represented by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), six Fresno-area community college professors are challenging the legality of newly implemented teaching guidelines by the California Community Colleges (CCC) system that require its more than 54,000 faculty members to profess anti-racist and DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility) ideologies in their classrooms.

[RELATED: OSU med students required to read ‘antiracism’ docs, warned against asking Black colleagues ‘How are you doing?’]

FIRE filed the lawsuit on Aug. 17 on behalf of James Druley, Linda de Morales, Loren Palsgaard, and David Richardson of Madera Community College, Bill Blanken of Reedley College, and Michael Stannard of Clovis Community College. The plaintiffs argue that the community college system forcing them to teach questionable views they do not agree with is a violation of their First Amendment rights, such as mandating professors inform students that “cultural and social identities are diverse, fluid, and intersectional.”

“These regulations are a totalitarian triple-whammy,” lead attorney Daniel Ortner said in a FIRE press release. “The government is forcing professors to teach and preach a politicized viewpoint they do not share, imposing incomprehensible guidelines, and threatening to punish professors when they cross an arbitrary, indiscernible line.”

The CCC first formally proposed implementing mandatory DEI classroom standards in March 2022. The following month, FIRE notified the community college system that implementing such required teaching regulations in public institutions would be contrary to the First Amendment and academic freedom.

The new regulations include DEIA standards by which faculty will be evaluated and reviewed for tenure. Schools will be required to “include DEIA competencies and criteria as a minimum standard for evaluating the performance of all employees” in an effort to “advance DEIA principles in community college employment.”

In the classroom, professors must also “employ teaching, learning, and professional practices that reflect DEIA and anti-racist principles” and “include DEIA and anti-racist principles into existing policies and practices, funding allocations, decision-making, planning, and program review processes.”

Along with the new regulations, the community college system released a glossary explaining related terminology. 

In its definition of “anti-racist,” the glossary notes that “Persons are either anti-racist or racist. Persons that say they are ‘not a racist’ are in denial of the inequities and racial problems that exist.”

The glossary discusses the concept of “merit,” saying it is “embedded in the ideology of Whiteness and upholds race-based structural inequality” and “protects White privilege under the guise of standards.”

The glossary also includes some definitions that disallow white people from being able to experience discrimination, such as “reverse racism,” which is “a term created and used by White people to erroneously describe the discrimination they experience when racial minorities allegedly receive preferential treatment.”

[RELATED: Arizona drops DEI statements from all university job applications]

Another section defines “white immunity,” which “describes how White people are immune from disparate racial treatment and their privileges are elevated, while people of color are marginalized and denied their rights, justice, and equitable social treatment due to systematic racism.”

Campus Reform contacted the California Community Colleges system asking why these regulations are necessary and how it plans to respond to the lawsuit. This article will be updated accordingly.

Follow Austin Browne on X and Instagram.