We are 4 faculty members at 4 universities in the San Antonio area, developing a symposium designed to assist teachers and educators from K12 through higher education to navigate the new anti-Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) legislation in Texas. Various senate bills have been floated and several passed over the last two legislative sessions that seek to remove DEI considerations in education, including the ability for K12 teachers and higher ed professors to teach about historical and contextual issues around racism, gender identities and sexual orientations. While this has only passed fully in public K12 education, an anti-DEI bill did pass the 88th Legislative Session and we must eliminate any DEI programs or hiring practices beginning in 2024. While the anti-DEI in college classrooms bill did not pass, it is anticipated to return with greater support in the 89th Texas Legislative Session. We are professors in communication and education who find it imperative, particularly at our Hispanic Serving Institutions, to teach our students about the realities of the Civil War, CRT, Mexican American studies and other areas that challenge 'viewpoint diversity', or in other words, make people feel discomfort with their positions in the world regarding privilege and oppression. Such practices (including book banning) deny critical thinking skills and set our students at a disadvantage to succeed in life within our pluralistic society. This project's first undertaking is a small (40 - 50 person) symposium for teacher/educators on understanding the historical context of anti-DEI movements, learning how to teach to our own identities and those of our students in a manner that is inclusive to multiple perspectives, and figuring out how to negotiate the tricky legal territory of anti-academic and intellectual freedom legislation. We seek to understand and work against the chilling effect such legislation has on DEI for teachers and students in our education system.
Funded by San Antonio, TX (October 2023)