Texas Senate passes 'CRT bill' that would require universities to honor 'intellectual diversity'

The Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 16, dubbed the 'CRT bill,' on Apr. 12. The bill is a 'prohibition on compelling students enrolled at [public universities] to adopt certain beliefs.'

Public universities, according to the bill, must also commit to 'intellectual inquiry,' 'academic freedom,' and 'intellectual diversity.'

The Texas State Senate recently passed a bill that would prohibit professors from presenting identities or beliefs as “inherently superior” to others. 

Senate Bill 16dubbed the “CRT bill,” according to an ABC affiliate–passed on Apr. 12 in an 18-12 vote along party lines. 

[RELATED: 5 states that cracked down on CRT]

Republican Sen. Bryan Hughes introduced the bill as a “prohibition on compelling students enrolled at [public universities] to adopt certain beliefs.”

The bill states that faculty “may not compel or attempt to compel a student enrolled at the institution to adopt a belief that any race, sex, or ethnicity or social, political, or religious belief is inherently superior to any other race, sex, ethnicity, or belief.”

Public universities, according to the bill, would also be required commit to “intellectual inquiry,” “academic freedom,” and “intellectual diversity.”

The Texas Tribune reported that critics of the bill describe it as vague and at risk of deterring conversations on topics including race and gender.

In her Senate testimony, University of Texas (UT) at Austin professor Karma Chávez said that the bill “is a solution looking for a problem that doesn’t exist.” Other faculty argued that “they encourage critical thinking skills and denied that they force students to adopt any beliefs.”

[RELATED: UT Austin prof says Critical Race Theory is ‘much needed’ in schools]

Chávez’s faculty profile says that her “scholarship is primarily informed by queer of color theory and women of color feminism,” and she is “interested in studying social movement building, activist rhetoric, and coalitional politics.” 

Her work also examines “the rhetorical practices of groups marginalized within existing power structures” and “rhetoric produced by powerful institutions and actors about marginalized folks and the systems that oppress them.” 

UT’s Faculty Council passed a resolution in Mar. 2022 declaring the rights of professors to teach CRT and racial and gender justice. 

The resolution, according to The Texas Tribune, inspired Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to include the CRT bill in his 2023 legislative agenda. Patrick suggested Senate Bill 16 as a follow-up to a bill enacted in 2021 that banned CRT in the state’s public K-12 schools. 

The Texas Tribune reported Hughes’ comments before the State Senate as he argued “that his bill would not censor the discussion of any topics in the college classroom.” 

“What we are not for,” he continued, “is when professors attempt to compel a student to adopt a certain belief … [or] require adherence to a professor’s viewpoint.”

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly. 

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