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Six California college professors are suing the state over diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) requirements they say force them to take the government’s view on “politically charged” topics.
The professors, from three Fresno-area community colleges, are being represented by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), which filed the lawsuit in federal court last week. The professors say the requirements are unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
“I’m a professor of chemistry. How am I supposed to incorporate DEI into my classroom instruction?” said Reedley College professor Bill Blanken. “What’s the ‘anti-racist’ perspective on the atomic mass of boron?”
The lawsuit says that Blanken does not believe that DEIA principles should be incorporated into his chemistry classes, saying he believes that it would be “pedagogically unsound and disruptive” to do so.
The other professors involved in the suit include James Druley, David Richardson, Linda de Morales, and Loren Palsgaard of Madera Community College; and Michael Stannard of Clovis Community College. They are suing California Community Colleges Chancellor Sonya Christian, the State Board of Governors, and State Center Community College.
The professors are concerned that they will face disciplinary action or termination if they don’t align with California community college DEIA requirements.
Under the guidelines, professors must develop “knowledge of the intersectionality of social identities and the multiple axes of oppression that people from different racial, ethnic, and other minoritized groups face.” Professors are also directed to teach using a “collectivism perspective” and “social justice lens,” according to the lawsuit.
“These regulations are a totalitarian triple-whammy,” said FIRE attorney Daniel Ortner. “The government is forcing professors to teach and preach a politicized viewpoint they do not share, imposing incomprehensible guidelines, and threatening to punish professors when they cross an arbitrary, indiscernible line.”
The glossary of DEIA terms put out by California shows that the guidelines are meant to implement certain ideological beliefs, according to FIRE.
“Persons are either anti-racist or racist. Persons that say they are ‘not a racist’ are in denial of the inequities and racial problems that exist,” the definition of ant-racist reads.
The glossary also claims that the concept of “merit” is embedded in “whiteness.”
“Merit protects White privilege under the guise of standards (i.e., the use of standardized tests that are biased against racial minorities) and as highlighted by anti-affirmative action forces. Merit implies that White people are deemed better qualified and more worthy but are denied opportunities due to race-conscious policies,” the glossary says.