Kentucky Bill To Stop Funding of DEI Offices In Public Universities Passed by House Vote of 68-18

Kentucky State Capitol

In a contentious move, the Kentucky House voted with a wide margin of 68-18 to halt funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) offices at public universities.

The bill, which was passed Friday, seeks to curtail DEI initiatives on campus, sparking heated debate between Republicans and Democrats over its potential impact.

The overhauled bill, which now heads back to the Senate, would not only defund DEI offices and staff positions but also ban race-based scholarships and prohibit courses containing “discriminatory concepts.”

Republican state Rep. Jennifer Decker, a key proponent of the bill, characterized DEI efforts as “failed, expensive, and discriminatory” and emphasized the need to dismantle DEI bureaucracies in public post-secondary schools.

However, Democrats strongly opposed the bill, arguing that it would disproportionately harm minority students on campuses, including racial minorities, LGBTQ students, and those from marginalized backgrounds. They underscored the importance of DEI programs in creating inclusive environments that support underrepresented groups.

Critics of the bill also warned that it could stifle academic freedom by restricting the concepts that professors can teach, particularly regarding systems of inequality and oppressive governments.

Democratic state Rep. Nima Kulkarni emphasized the importance of students learning about history and societal progress without constraints.

The potential backlash to the bill includes economic boycotts, students leaving the state for college, and negative impacts on efforts to recruit Black student-athletes.

Democratic state Rep. Cherlynn Stevenson highlighted concerns about the message the bill sends to prospective recruits and its potential repercussions for educational opportunities.

The broader context of the bill reflects a nationwide trend, with Republican lawmakers proposing similar measures in multiple states to restrict DEI initiatives or require their public disclosure.

This legislative push comes amid shifting legal landscapes following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year ending affirmative action at universities.

Democratic state Rep. Tina Bojanowski also spoke about the threat posed by bills targeting DEI initiatives, cautioning against political interference in institutions of higher education and the imposition of ideological agendas.

The bill’s fate now rests with the Senate, where it will face further deliberation and potential amendments before becoming law.