The Texas Senate has passed Senate Bill 16 (SB 16) that will ban the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) ideologies in higher education institutes—with penalties for faculty members who push the ideology.
SB16, authored by Republican Senator Bryan Hughes, was passed 19–12 along party lines. “A faculty member of an institution of higher education may not compel or attempt to compel a student enrolled at the institution to adopt a belief that any race, sex, or ethnicity or social, political, or religious belief is inherently superior to any other race, sex, ethnicity, or belief,” the bill (pdf) states.
In case a faculty member is found to have violated rules, the institution is obliged to discharge the individual. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board must also develop a procedure for institutions to receive and review complaints related to the bill’s potential violations.
The procedure must take into account the due process rights under the U.S. Constitution and Texas Constitution. The complainant or the faculty member who is the subject of the complaint should be able to appeal the institution’s determination on the matter.
No later than Dec. 1 every year, institutions are obliged to submit to the legislature as well as the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board a report on complaints they received during the preceding academic year.
The bill also instructs higher education institutions to be committed to creating an environment of “intellectual inquiry and academic freedom.”
Institutions must ensure the protection of “intellectual diversity” so that students are respected and educated irrespective of their race, ethnicity, sex, social, political, or religious beliefs, SB 16 mandates. The bill now heads to the Texas House of Representatives.
The bill has been severely criticized by Democrats. Democrat state Sen. Sarah Eckhard called SB 16 “censorship masquerading as academic freedom” on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
“We will be assuring that our Texas institutions of higher education are nothing but echo chambers, incapable of welcoming the full marketplace of idea … and uninterested in challenging our worldview with a larger one,” she said, according to TV station KWTX.
Karma Chavez, a University of Texas at Austin professor who testified on behalf of herself, said she is worried that the bill “is a solution looking for a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick extended his support for the bill. “Last session, we banned CRT in kindergarten through 12th grade because no child should be taught that they are inferior to others due to their race, sex, or ethnicity. In 2023, this should be common sense but the radical left’s drive to divide our society is relentless,” he said, according to an April 12 press release.
“This session, there was no question that we would ban the teaching of CRT in Texas universities. Liberal professors, determined to indoctrinate our students with their woke brand of revisionist history, have gone too far.”
In addition to SB 16, lawmakers in Texas are also looking to pass SB 17 that seeks to ban diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs, training, and offices on campuses in public colleges. Last week, the Senate higher education subcommittee approved the bill and it is now headed to the full education committee for approval.
In September 2020, former President Donald Trump signed an executive order that banned CRT training in federal agencies, with the White House calling the ideology “anti-American propaganda.” After Biden came to power, he reversed Trump’s order and pushed forward CRT ideology on the American people.
In an interview with The Epoch Times’ Crossroads Program in May 2021, Thomas Lindsay, a distinguished senior fellow of higher education and constitutional studies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, called CRT as the “new racism.”
CRT programs are being “instituted down to the third grade, where they’re telling third-grade children that because of the color of their skin, they are oppressors, meaning that because of the color of their skin, they’re bad,” he said. “That used to be called racism … And unfortunately, critical race theory is the new racism.”