Governor Stitt Signs Anti-Discrimination Executive Order, Takes Aim at DEI Measures
Today, Governor Kevin Stitt signed Executive Order 2023-31, implementing greater protections for Oklahomans and their tax dollars against Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
“In Oklahoma, we’re going to encourage equal opportunity, rather than promising equal outcomes,” said Governor Stitt. “Encouraging our workforce, economy, and education systems to flourish means shifting focus away from exclusivity and discrimination, and toward opportunity and merit. We’re taking politics out of education and focusing on preparing students for the workforce.”
The order requires state agencies and institutes for higher education to initiate a review of DEI positions, departments, activities, procedures, and programs to eliminate and dismiss non-critical personnel. State agencies and institutions for higher education shall not utilize state funds, property, or resources to:
- Grant or support diversity, equity, and inclusion positions, departments, activities, procedures, or programs to the extent they grant preferential treatment based on one person’s particular race, color, sex, ethnicity, or national origin over another’s;
- mandate any person to participate in, listen to, or receive any education, training, activities, procedures, or programming to the extent such education, training, activity, or procedure grants preferences based on one person’s particular race, color, sex, ethnicity, or national origin over another’s;
- mandate any person swear, certify, or agree to any loyalty oath that favors or prefers one particular race, color, sex, ethnicity, or national origin over another;
- mandate any person to certify or declare agreement with, recognition of, or adherence to, any particular political, philosophical, religious, or other ideological viewpoint;
- mandate any applicant for employment provide a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement or give any applicant for employment preferential consideration based on the provision of such a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement; or
- mandate any person to disclose their pronouns.
"I remember growing up, my mom told me: 'Life isn’t going to be easy, you have to work hard,'" said Tamera, a senior at the University of Oklahoma. "This executive order is important because it challenges students from across Oklahoma, and the country, to not only try but to do their best. We have to raise the bar in Oklahoma, and I’m thankful for Governor Stitt for everything he’s done today."
"As a nation, we strive for equality of opportunity to give every young person a chance at achieving their American Dream," said Patrice Onwuka, director of Independent Women’s Forum’s Center for Economic Opportunity. "Race, ethnicity, gender, and heritage should not be used to discriminate against any person. Yet, discriminatory DEI programming has done damage on college campuses—fomenting division between students, eroding free speech rights, threatening academic freedom, and bloating school bureaucracies, which in turn drives up tuition costs. Furthermore, these efforts do not prepare young women and men for the diverse workforce that values aptitude, grit, and skill, not a sense of entitlement driven by victimhood. We applaud Governor Stitt and the state for taking leadership on removing discriminatory and divisive race-based programming and staffing from Oklahoma colleges and universities. Every student deserves a campus free from discrimination. Thankfully, legal protections already outlaw race-and sex-based discrimination, but this executive order guards against efforts to bypass those protections."
"Unfortunately, programs and policies operating under the guise of diversity, equity, and inclusion, particularly in our universities, have been shown to neither achieve meaningful diversity nor prepare our students for work and citizenship," said Brett Farley, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma. "Instead of giving opportunity to the underserved, they've given rise to religious intolerance and created a chilling effect on the free exercise and expression of strongly held religious faith and moral principles. We applaud the commitment of Governor Stitt and leaders in the House and Senate to preserve respect for the inclusion of the deeply held beliefs of all state employees and, in particular, of students at our state universities. While it is important to value the many diverse communities that make up a student body or workforce, it is equally important to do so in a way that respects the constitutional right to exercise faith free from coercive and discriminatory public policies."
"For years, universities and government agencies, even those in red states, have become increasingly beholden to a coercive liberal agenda, often framed under the banner of DEI," said David Safavian, general counsel for the American Conservative Union. "The transformation of these institutions has been exposed following the response by major universities in the aftermath of the October 7th terror attack by Hamas. Especially with that in mind, CPAC applauds Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt for acting through executive order today to take down DEI in all of Oklahoma’s government. Abolishing DEI bureaucracies and ending mandatory 'diversity' training and DEI hiring statements will ensure Oklahoma’s institutions can focus on the diversity of ideas, rather than shame-based political activism. Oklahomans can take pride in knowing that the content of their character will matter more than the color of their skin."
In his 2023 State of the State address, Governor Stitt called out wasteful and discriminatory DEI initiatives, saying, in part: "…when we send our kids to college, we expect our tuition to pay for their education, not their indoctrination…I want our universities to have less DEI officers and more career placement counselors."