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Governor Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) announced a major shift to the purpose of Virginia’s state diversity office.
On Wednesday, the new governor tapped Angela Sailor — former official in the George W. Bush administration and vice president of The Feulner Institute at the Heritage Foundation — to work as the state’s chief diversity, opportunity and inclusion officer.
Indeed, the term “opportunity” replaces the term “equity” in the position’s title, signaling a new mission for the agency. According to an executive order from Youngkin’s office, Sailor will “promote free speech and civil discourse in civic life,” serve as an “ambassador for unborn children,” and “be responsive to the rights of parents in educational and curricular decision making.”
“The people of Virginia elected the most diverse leadership in the commonwealth’s history,” Youngkin said in a statement, as reported by Virginia Business. “Virginia is big enough for the hopes and dreams of a diverse people. Angela Sailor’s experience in government, nonprofits and the private sector will guide us as we ensure that the government is working for all Virginians across our diverse commonwealth, especially when it comes to economic opportunity for all Virginians.”
However, Christopher Rufo — a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and leading education reform activist — suggested scrapping the department altogether.
“My recommendation: abolish the DEI department entirely and replace it with a MEO department, promoting ‘merit,’ ‘excellence,’ and ‘opportunity.’ This is ultimately a war of values and most Americans prefer a system of individual rights and achievement — not neo-Marxist ‘equity,’” he said on Twitter.
My recommendation: abolish the DEI department entirely and replace it with a MEO department, promoting “merit,” “excellence,” and “opportunity.” This is ultimately a war of values and most Americans prefer a system of individual rights and achievement—not neo-Marxist “equity.”
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) January 19, 2022
On his first day in office, Youngkin signed 11 executive orders, enacting promises made on the campaign trail. The orders seek to restore “excellence in education by ending the use of divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, in public education,” allow “parents to make decisions on whether their child wears a mask in school,” and investigate “wrongdoing in Loudoun County.”
Beyond education reform, other orders vow to prevent “human trafficking and provide support to survivors,” establish “a commission to combat antisemitism,” cut “job killing regulations by 25 percent,” and restore “individual freedoms and personal privacy by rescinding the vaccine mandate for all state employees.”
“The will of the people grants a license to serve,” Youngkin said during his inaugural address. “A temporary license extended with trust, with hope, and with expectations to deliver on promises made. And therefore, as I reflect on my Virginia home and my love for this great nation and its founding principles, I am so humbled to be sworn in as the 74th governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
“We stand here today as the messengers of that movement, entrusted to protect liberty, create opportunity, and build unity for the hard work ahead,” he added.
Former Governor Ralph Northam (D-VA) originally launched the “chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer” position after his blackface scandal in February 2019, elevating the post to a Cabinet-level position.