MONTGOMERY — After over seven hours of Democrat filibustering, the State Senate passed a bill Thursday banning taxpayer resources from funding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) offices and training in Alabama public universities, schools and agencies.

The bill prohibits state agencies, schools, and colleges from sponsoring or requiring students and employees to attend or participate in any diversity, equity, and inclusion program, training, orientation, or coursework that advocates for or requires assent to a divisive concept.

The  bill would prohibit public entities from "promoting, endorsing, or requiring affirmation of certain divisive concepts relating to race, sex, or religion." Similar legislation introduced by State Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville) passed the House in 2023

"Higher education must return to its essential foundations of academic integrity and the pursuit of knowledge instead of being corrupted by destructive ideologies," Barfoot said. "This legislation will build bridges to celebrate what people have in common, not erect walls that silo people into the idea that their race, religion, and sexual orientation solely define who they are and how society should view them." 

The bill took about seven hours to pass the Senate on Thursday due to multiple Democratic Senators filibustering.

"At the end of the day, I don't know what needle it's going to move in this state, what difference it's going to make (and) whether it's just about politics, but, for me, I'm going to stay woke. People can always say whether we woke on the left or not, I'm going to stay woke," Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) said.

The legislation would prohibit certain public entities from conditioning enrollment or attendance in certain classes or training based on race or color. The bill would authorize certain public entities to discipline or terminate employees or contractors who violate this act. The bill would provide that some circumstances regarding accreditation, academic instruction, student groups, and other scenarios are not prohibited. 

"We are all made in God's image, and our unique qualities should be celebrated," State Senate President Pro-Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) said. "However, while we are each unique, we have more that unites us than divides us. Students go to schools to learn and set themselves up for a bright future. Opportunities for togetherness is what this legislation tries to achieve, and I am thankful that all members in the body were able to engage in meaningful ways on this legislation."

Senate Majority Leader Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro) said, "As it has been practiced, DEI does not enhance educational excellence and instead promotes division in our society." 

"The role of education is to unlock a student's potential, not to destroy it through indoctrination," Livingston said. "Our Caucus thanks Senator Barfoot for bringing this legislation to guarantee institutions no longer substitute DEI for actual merit."

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