New Idaho bill would curb DEI in higher ed, ban 'political loyalty tests'

A recently introduced bill in the Idaho Senate would 'prevent Idaho's public colleges and universities from establishing diversity, equity, and inclusion bureaucracies.'

The legislation would also ban 'political loyalty tests' and mandatory DEI training for college officials.

The Idaho Senate is debating a new piece of proposed legislation that would eliminate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs at state-owned colleges and universities.

According to its statement of purpose, Senate Bill 1357 aims to “[protect] the Constitutional right to equal protection under the law in Idaho’s institutions for higher education.” It would do so by “[creating] a new Chapter 68, Title 33, Idaho Code to prevent Idaho’s public colleges and universities from establishing diversity, equity, and inclusion bureaucracies.”

[RELATED: Crenshaw proposes bill to end funding for schools with mandatory DEI statements]

Introduced on Feb. 12, the legislation states that, “The university of Idaho and any private institution of higher education in the state of Idaho shall not expend funds appropriated by the Idaho legislature to establish, sustain, support, or staff a diversity, equity, and inclusion office or to contract, employ, engage, or hire an individual to serve as a diversity, equity, and inclusion officer.”

The bill’s primary sponsors include State Senators Brian Lenney and Scott Herndon, as well as Representative Elaine Price.

SB 1357 would prohibit required DEI-based training for college officials, stating, “An institution of higher education shall not require mandatory diversity training.”

The bill, which would prohibit DEI positions in general, explicitly states that such positions “expressly include but [are] not limited to” a list of 35 current DEI positions, including the vice provost for community engagement and belonging at Boise State University, the director of the office of multicultural affairs at the University of Idaho, and the director of the gender resource center at Idaho State University.

The legislation would also prevent discrimination on the basis of race for faculty positions and student admission. 

“No institution of higher education shall grant preferential consideration to an applicant, teacher, employee, or student for opinions expressed or action taken pertaining to another individual or a group of individuals in which the institution’s consideration is based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation of those other individuals,” the document reads.

[RELATED: TX university replaces DEI office after statewide ban with ‘Office of Campus and Community Belonging’]

The current version of the legislation would also eliminate “political loyalty tests” at public colleges and universities, stating that such tests shall not “be required or solicited” during the “admissions process,” “employment application process,” “hiring process,” or “contract renewal process.” 

A political loyalty test would also not be allowed as a “condition of participation in any administrative or decision-making function of any institution of higher education of the state.”

Campus Reform has contacted Boise State University, Idaho State University, and the University of Idaho for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.