Florida Anti-EDI Bill Enacted Amidst Stakeholder Opposition
On May 15, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 266, legislation intended to restrict spending by state universities on equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) initiatives, into law. The enactment of this law follows significant stakeholder opposition amidst an uptick in similar bill introductions in state legislatures throughout the country which seek to restrict EDI in higher education.
Since the beginning of this year, 20 states have seen bills introduced in their legislatures that propose to eliminate university EDI offices, prohibit EDI training and diversity statements, or restrict autonomy in hiring processes. Florida’s law prohibits the use of state or federal funds to promote, support, or maintain any programs or campus activities that advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion, while importantly including a carve-out for activities necessary for obtaining or retaining programmatic accreditation.
In early February, PAEA’s Board of Directors voted to issue a statement condemning state legislative proposals targeting EDI efforts in higher education, citing the conflict of such proposals with PAEA’s organizational values and the potential impact on programs’ capacity to adhere to accreditation requirements pertaining to diversity.
“Any state law prohibiting public institutions from expending resources to support diversity and inclusion would inherently threaten the ability of PA programs to meet accreditation requirements at a time of growing workforce shortages. While the implications of this legislation for programs are concerning, the more foundational threat these proposals pose to the health of all communities compel the Association to voice its strong objection,” the statement said.
Since the publication of this statement, PAEA has reiterated its concerns about the impact of pending legislation on programs’ accreditation, joined other organizations in issuing public communications opposing anti-EDI legislation, and issued, in collaboration with the Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions, a consensus statement on the crisis of underrepresentation of men of color in the health professions.
Members with questions about recent anti-EDI legislation are invited to contact Tyler Smith at tsmith@PAEAonline.org.