State AGs call to end crackdown on diversity training

A coalition of 18 state attorneys general and the attorney general for the District of Columbia have called on President Donald Trump to withdrawal his September executive order banning "divisive concepts" in diversity training unless guidance on the order is updated to permit implicit bias and unconscious bias trainings.

The group cited a concern that the language in the executive order could effectively ban implicit bias training for federal grant recipients and contractors. They laid out their concerns in a letter led by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong and sent to the President on Friday, Oct. 30. It was publicly released Monday, Nov. 2.

"Implicit bias trainings are a vital component of advancing the goals of diversity, equity and inclusion," they wrote. "Any attempt to deny that all of us have unconscious biases is contrary to science and common sense."

The officials assert that they will continue workplace training on implicit bias, racism and sexism, and that they encourage federal contractors and grantees in their jurisdictions to also continue employee education on implicit bias, racism and sexism.

The request from these state-level officials is the latest in an ongoing backlash that includes a lawsuit from civil rights groups, complaints from business groups and confusion from federal contractors over how to implement the order. Many have pointed to a chilling effect on diversity and inclusion training as federal agencies, federal contractors and federal grant recipients seek to comply with the order and accompanying memos.

The signers contend that although the stated goal of the executive order is to ensure the fair and equal treatment of all individuals by preventing race and sex stereotyping or scapegoating, "the order has the opposite effect."

They point to confusion over whether memos and guidance on the executive order from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Labor banned implicit bias training.

An OMB memo flagged terms including "unconscious bias" and "critical race theory" as problematic under the executive order. Labor Department guidance states that "unconscious or implicit bias training is prohibited to the extent it teaches or implies that an individual, by virtue of his or her race, sex, and/or national origin, is racist, sexist, oppressive, or biased, whether consciously or unconsciously."

Given the broad language in the executive order and the potential penalties concerning federal grants or contracts, there is already a chilling effect on training in their jurisdictions, they write.

The attorneys general also highlighted ambiguity around whether the reach of the order includes state officials or agencies, which are often recipients of federal contracts and grants.

Section 5 of the executive order calls for federal agency heads to identify grant programs where they can require recipients to certify that they won't promote the concepts banned by the executive order. Agency heads are to give OMB a list of identified grant programs by November 23.

"We are deeply concerned about the potential (intended or unintended) to direct or coerce the substance of our diversity training programs," the group of attorneys general write about this section of the executive order.

They have requested copies of these agency reports to OMB and a list of the federal grants that will include the condition prohibiting certain trainings if the order is not withdrawn. They also asked for elucidation on why certain grants were selected, and what statutes support the new funding conditions.

Reader comments

Thu, Nov 12, 2020

Rand Paul is a medical expert. He has indicated that COVID poses no threat to people. Maybe he would like to elucidate why he is such a clueless minion idiot.

Wed, Nov 11, 2020

Pr4oblem solved hire more beltway bandits to conduct required seminars so that they can hire people without any true experience, pull down large perverse salaries and the project officer overseeing the project will line up a cushy consulting position on the side while ignoring conflict of interest concerns. The Big Outfit in Bethesda funds time consuming happy feel good do nothing seminars and management gets perks doing so. However when the results of the seminar are reported to the management and it indicates serious management deficits this is ignored and another seminar is scheduled costing twice as much and more time spent wasted where productive employees have critical work that needs to be done.

Mon, Nov 9, 2020

His name is Dr. Bozo McNothing

Mon, Nov 9, 2020

State AG's should focus their attention n the deficiencies of their state and not what the federal government is doing. The happy feel good programs that were mandatory for federal employees were worthless and cost the tax payers a lot of money paying the Beltway bandits. They should have been focusing their attention on the lousy self serving bigoted age and gender biased management idiots who destroyed many hard working employees chances for career advancement. The Big Outfit in Bethesda is riddled with corrupt management scum who feed off the hard work of regular employees by cheating on time cards and writing each other up for large monetary bonuses. They also were great on cheating on work by taking teleworking while out on the golf course or shopping.

Mon, Nov 9, 2020

I always love it when someone says, "Science has determined..." Who is this science person, and can I see their work??

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