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Anti-DEI bill passes House Education Committee

Screenshot from Legislative Screenshot Commission
(L-R) Trinidad Jackson, Kimberly Kennedy and Felicia Nu’wman speak in opposition of SB6.

Kentucky House Education committee members passed Senate Bill 6, the controversial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion bill, on Thursday. 

The bill, which originally took aim at curbing DEI initiatives, has since been revised. The new version contains language from Rep. Jennifer Decker’s (R-Waddy) anti-DEI bill, House Bill 9, which would defund DEI offices. 

Decker presented the new version of SB6 as the bill’s sponsor, Senator Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green) had a scheduling conflict. 

Under the version, schools shall not establish any resources to: 

  • Establish or maintain a diversity, equity and inclusion office 
  • Contract or employ an individual to serve as a diversity, equity and inclusion officer
  • Provide diversity, equity and inclusion training or contribute to any cost associated with planning, promoting hosting, traveling to, attending, presenting to others participating in diversity, equity and inclusion training 
  • Establish or maintain diversity equity and inclusion initiatives or
  •  Promote or justify discriminatory concepts outside of academic courses or instruction 

Decker said this bill is to ensure the post secondary system in the state is held accountable.

“To dismantle systems in Kentucky of misguided DEI bureaucracies that have cost Kentucky taxpayers an unknown amount…over the past 13 years, a time period in which our campuses have also experienced a dramatic drop in overall enrollment of students and particularly in the enrollment of underrepresented minority students who are low income,” Decker said. 

At today’s committee hearing, 12 individuals spoke in opposition to the bill.  

Trinidad Jackson, a private citizen, said it’s critical for elected officials to stop the “cultural and structural violence” that’s perpetuated by the bill. 

“Minimally, there are three main states of mind that would even support this type of bill: one of general unawareness, one of willful ignorance and one of ruling class predatory state whiteness,” Davis said. “(I’m) speaking here today to ensure that none of you leave unaware of the threats and the destruction that you will cause if you pass this bill.”

Shlomo Litvin, chairman of the Kentucky Jewish Council and Rabbi at the University of Kentucky Jewish student center, shared his opposition for the bill and used the events of the Israel-Hamas war as an example of placing targets on Jewish students.  

“The office that is listed as their source of relief,” Litvin said. “Diversity, equity and inclusion has no desire or capacity to help them. Jews, unlike other minority groups, possess privilege and power. Jews and victims of Jew hatred do not merit or necessitate the attention of the DEI committee.”

James Tipton (R-Taylorsville), committee chair, was accused by Davis and Rep. George Brown (D-Lexington) of partiality towards individuals who supported and not giving equal time to those who opposed the bill. 

Brown said during their testimonies two individuals who opposed the bill were cut off by the chair. 

“I think they were making very valid points and there were other valid points that were being made about the opposition to this piece of legislation,” Brown said. “I think that Kentucky will be making a serious mistake to pass such a piece of legislation, because DEI came, in my opinion, as a result of something being wrong not something being right.”

Rep. Steve Riley said both sides are talking past each other and productive discussion is needed.

“It’s important for us to show grace, humility (and) respect to everyone,” Riley said. “Until we get these issues solved, we cannot become the nation we’re capable of being.”

The bill passed 13- 3, with two passing. SB6 now moves to the House floor.

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About the Contributor
Jill Smith
Jill Smith, Co-Editor In Chief/News Editor
Jillian Smith is Co-EIC and News Editor at The News. Smith is a graduate student pursuing a Masters of Science in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. Smith is also a Graduate Assistant in Student Affairs. Beyond working and class, Smith enjoys reading, coffee, and listening to music.

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