Statement on State Legislative Proposals to Restrict EDI in Higher Education

In alignment with the Association’s mission of advancing excellence in PA education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion, PAEA strongly opposes recent state legislative proposals to restrict equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) efforts at public institutions of higher education. Any legislation that would inhibit the ability of programs to support students and faculty is in direct conflict with PAEA’s core values and support of public policy designed to achieve health for all.

Recent events including the COVID-19 pandemic have drawn increased attention to the importance of workforce diversity in reducing disparities in patient health outcomes. To improve access to equitable care for all patients, PAEA is driving efforts to address and eliminate systemic racism and bias in PA education as part of its strategic plan. An important component of achieving this goal is ensuring that PA programs have the resources necessary to support students of diverse backgrounds, which emerging anti-EDI legislation would deny.

In recognition of the value of a health workforce that reflects the communities it serves, PA programs must now comply with a diversity accreditation standard enacted in 2020 requiring sponsoring institutions to make resources available to programs to promote diversity and inclusion. As such, 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.

Anti-EDI proposals are fundamentally wrong, and PAEA urges state legislatures to swiftly reject them.