Utah Passes Bills Banning DEI And Men Using Women’s Bathrooms

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Jan 31, 2024 - 03:45 AM

Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The Utah Legislature on Jan. 26 approved two conservative-minded bills that prompted Democrats to don all black in mourning—one that bans men from women’s bathrooms and another that ejects diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) from public education.

The Utah State Capitol building in Salt Lake City on Jan. 17, 2021. (George Frey/AFP/Getty Images)

Utah state lawmakers in both chambers gave final legislative approval on Jan. 26 to H.B. 257, titled the Sex-based Designations for Privacy, Anti-bullying, and Women’s Opportunities Act. The measure prohibits men who identify as women from accessing women’s bathrooms in schools and government buildings.

Keeping men from women’s spaces is an appropriate and much needed boundary in Utah and across America,” the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Kera Birkeland, a Republican, said in a post on social media platform X.

Men don’t belong in women’s bathrooms,” competitive swimmer Riley Gaines said in a post on X. “Thanks @KeraBirk for your leadership on this.”

The other bill, H.B. 261, titled the Equal Opportunity Initiatives Act, prohibits government employers and institutions of higher education and public education from engaging in discriminatory practices, including those based on DEI principles.

The measure, sponsored by state Rep. Katy Hall, a Republican, would ban “requiring an individual, before, during, or after admission or employment, to provide certain submissions or attend certain training that promotes differential treatment.”

Former NFL player Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) took to X to express his appreciation for the bill’s passage.

“Thank you, Rep. Katy Hall, @KeithGroverUT, and Utah legislators for continuing to lead the way,” he wrote. “We’re leaving divisive DEI behind.

Mr. Burgess has criticized what he earlier described as the “leftist mantra of systemic racism.”

On Jan. 25, when the bills had already passed one of the Utah Legislature’s chambers but before they cleared final legislative hurdles the next day, a group of Democrats staged a protest against the two measures—wearing all black as a sign of mourning.

That’s because we are hurting as we join with our communities, our marginalized communities and vulnerable communities, through this process and we just came out of the Senate floor that passed H.B.257 and H.B. 261 and they may move really fast to the governor’s desk,” one of the state representatives said, according to a video posted on an account on X called End Wokeness.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, is expected to sign both bills into law. During a news conference in December, Mr. Cox voiced strong support for the anti-DEI bill.

“I can assure you, after this legislative session, it will not be happening here in the state of Utah, these diversity statements that you have to sign to get hired,” Mr. Cox said.

“It’s bordering on evil, that we’re forcing people into a political framework before they can even apply for a job, by the state.”

More Details

The bathroom bill, H.B. 257, bars people from using bathrooms for the opposite sex in schools and government-owned or -controlled buildings.

The measure also stipulates that the state’s definition of “male” and “female” are based on biological characteristics such as genitalia as opposed to gender identity.

There are exceptions for unisex or single-occupant facilities, changing rooms not open to the general public, and intersex individuals.

Supporters of the bill have argued that it’s needed to protect women from male predators seeking to enter bathrooms or changing rooms under the pretense that they are transgender.

Opponents claim that the bill unfairly singles out people from the transgender community.

The DEI bill, H.B. 261, would prohibit universities and government entities from having offices that promote certain policies or require employees to submit statements of allegiance to DEI principles. It also prohibits mandatory DEI training.

So far this year, Republican lawmakers have proposed several dozen bills across at least 17 states that restrict various DEI initiatives or require their public disclosure, according to an Associated Press legislative tally.

Democrats, by contrast, have filed at least 20 bills in nine states that would promote or require DEI measures.

Deluge of DEI

The rise of DEI has been pronounced across businesses, colleges, and other institutions in the United States.

For instance, more than 60 percent of U.S. companies have a race- or gender-based DEI program, according to a 2022 Harvard Business Review survey.

Also, a recent report from The Heritage Foundation shows that DEI initiatives were present at 81 percent of community colleges reviewed; that figure was 96 percent when counting only community colleges with more than 10,000 students.

But the backlash against DEI also has been pronounced.

In June 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the use of racially discriminatory admissions policies at educational facilities that receive federal funding.

Subsequently, state attorneys general from a dozen states urged major U.S. corporations to abandon their use of racial quotas and race-based preferences in hiring and contracting.

Later, a report published by DEI consultancy firm Paradigm Strategies Inc. identified a decline in corporate DEI budgets and a drop in the number of organizations with a set DEI strategy.

The year “2023 has undeniably shifted the DEI landscape for years to come,” according to the report.

“External forces are no longer pushing companies to invest in DEI; instead, in some cases, external forces are pushing back on companies’ investment in DEI,” it reads.