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House passes bill prohibiting DEI programs, divisive concepts

After two hours of debate on Thursday, only one Black lawmaker voted in favor of SB129, a bill targeting diversity, equity and inclusion programs, in the Alabama House of Representatives.

All other black senators voted against the bill. Only two white members participated. Rep. Neil Rafferty (D-Birmingham) and Rep. Philip Ensler (D-Montgomery). Mr. Lafferty is the only openly gay lawmaker in the state, and Mr. Ensler is Jewish. The only black lawmaker to vote for the bill was U.S. Rep. Kenneth Paschall of Pelham, the state's only black Republican.

Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville) passed the bill introduced by Sen. Will Barfoot (R-Pike Road) in the House. The bill reinstates language from last session's Oliver bill that targeted “divisive concepts” taught in schools and other state institutions.

The purpose of this bill is to eliminate DEI programs on college campuses and other state institutions. Oliver said the first complaint that sparked the bill came from a student at the University of Alabama who said students were being indoctrinated.

“In this particular case, it was an assault on law enforcement, it was very personal, it was an attack on the people who actually protect and serve us,” Oliver told the chamber in Tillman, Ont. He told a member of the House of Representatives (Democratic Party). “Groupthink activities involved a kid who was being forced to comply, and that kid's uncle was a law enforcement officer. All of a sudden, this kid was like, this is not acceptable, this person is no longer in that class. I actually dropped out of school because I felt like I didn't belong.”

Mr. Oliver did not want to provide too much information or identify the person, but what Mr. Oliver revealed is not consistent with the bill and lacks internal logical consistency. said.

First, Oliver refers to this constituent as “kid” multiple times, even though this person attended UA. Although it is possible that the student was 17 at the time of the incident, most college students are over 18.

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Professor Oliver also described the situation as “abuse of a law enforcement officer” and related the scenario to “coerced speech,” but did not go into detail about what students were expected to comply with. . He also did not explain how the bill would address such situations, saying the bill deals with concepts along racial, gender, religious and sexual lines, but does not apply to any profession. , much less specifically about denigrating law enforcement officers.

On Wednesday, more than 100 Alabama students packed the halls of the state Capitol to protest the bill and stood outside the House Republican Caucus luncheon to discuss their concerns with lawmakers. But when the deputies saw the students, they exited a different way, apparently avoiding conversation, according to reports.

ALGOP President John Wall also came out to interact with the students.

Oliver and other Republicans have branded DEI programs as denigrating conservative white and male students.

“DEI programs are a radical and divisive offshoot of Critical Race Theory, which we know as CRT,” Oliver said. “The bill says nothing about it, but we are doing everything in our power to thwart these efforts. Their influence on college campuses as well as K-12 schools is deeply divisive and racially exclusive. program to indoctrinate students with far-left political ideology.”

Rafferty challenged that characterization in a 10-minute speech on the bill.

“Let’s be clear about this: DEI programs exist primarily to promote the equitable participation of underrepresented populations in education,” Rafferty told Oliver. “Nothing more, nothing less…'Inclusion' does not mean 'exclusion.'”

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Over the past two days, lawmakers rushed to pass the bill as concerns surfaced about its potential impact on NCAA Division I athletics, including college football.

Author Michael Harriott points out potential catastrophe in Wednesday's viral “X” post.

The NCAA requires its member institutions to complete an equity, diversity and inclusion review at least once every four years.

House Majority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) said at a news conference after the bill passed that he expects preparations will be made for a lawsuit challenging the law.

“Even if we have to litigate on this particular issue, we will do so,” he said.

The bill now goes back to the Senate for consent or to a conference committee.

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