, , , , , ,

A bill:

HB 1196
Provides protections against ideological discrimination in postsecondary education
Sponsor: Richey, Doug (039)
Proposed Effective Date: 8/28/2023
LR Number: 2452H.01I
Last Action: 03/20/2023 – HCS Voted Do Pass (H)
Bill String: HB 1196
Next House Hearing: Hearing not scheduled
Calendar: Bill currently not on a House calendar

The bill summary as introduced [pdf]:


This bill provides definitions for “discriminatory ideology” which includes any ideology that promotes the differential treatment of any individual or group of individuals based on characteristics of race, color, religion, sex, gender, ethnicity, national origin, or ancestry. The bill prohibits any public institution of post secondary education from requiring any applicant, employee, student or contractor to endorse such discriminatory ideology. The bill also prevents institutions from requiring a “diversity, equity, and inclusion statement” as defined in the bill from such individuals.

Any individual that is determined to have been compelled to endorse a discriminatory ideology or submit a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement, or that is adversely affected by preferential considerations provided to any individual that endorses such ideology or submits such statement may pursue an action for injunctive or declaratory relief as outlined against such institution.

The bill provides for discipline procedures to be taken by the institution for any individual that violates the provisions outlined by first being placed on unpaid leave for an academic year, and being ineligible for employment by another institution in the state, any subsequent offense would result in termination and ineligibility for employment for five years.

The bill requires each institution to annually submit a written report of compliance to the Speaker of the House and the Senate’s President Pro Tem.

Some of the submitted testimony:

I support this bill and its protection of students, staff and contractors/employees at Missouri post-secondary education schools from unproven discriminatory ideology. I am concerned about such discrimination at all levels of the Missouri school systems. I find the use of my tax dollars to support these discriminatory policies and their lack of accountability to the taxpayer offensive and fear that such policies will undermine the foundations of Missouri and our nation.

I support this bill and its protection of students, staff and contractors/employees at Missouri post-secondary education schools from unproven discriminatory ideology. I am concerned about such discrimination at all levels of the Missouri school systems. I find the use of my tax dollars to support these discriminatory policies and their lack of accountability to the taxpayer offensive and fear that such policies will undermine the foundations of Missouri and our nation.

Two different submissions. Apparently, supporters of the bill are lazy.

Mr. Vice-Chair, I grew up not far from where you did in St. Charles. I daresay you might have met one of my older siblings at a football game in high school as you were in the same graduating class. I am sad to say I no longer live near my family in Missouri. Like so many people of the great Show-Me state, I left and took my business with me. For fifteen years, I have made a point of spending as little money as possible in my beloved home state because of bills like this. I refused to attend college in Missouri because of the ridicule and baseless accusations of “reverse racism” that politicians complain about while obviously ignoring real problems in our land. Instead, I spent my money attending colleges in Washington, DC and in Illinois. I contributed to their economies, both by paying tuition and by living and working in these other places. How much money do you think this fear-mongering has cost the beautiful souls of Missouri? How many more taxpayers will you shove out, depleting Missouri’s government funds for the sake of a racist, bigoted falsehood. How impoverished will you make your state? What’s worse, I left Missouri to become a mental health counselor – those are skills I know for a fact Missourians desperately need. But how many of us Missourians refuse to return with our training to save lives because we see how politicians such as yourself use fear mongering to stay in power, rather than actually help people. Consider for a moment the millions or even billions of dollars you are robbing yourself and your government and your people of by supporting discriminatory bills like HB 1196. I urge all committee members to question whether this bill’s costs are really worth some likes on Facebook and Twitter. Oppose HB 1196, if only to satisfy your own greed

Stop the attacks on our LGBTQ community. We are tired of having to fight for the rights of our friends and family every week. Just stop. Stop trying to ruin our educational systems even more than you already have.

I oppose this bill without reservation.

My name is [….], I am a Black pediatric cardiologist living and working in KCMO. I am testifying on the necessity of diversity-equity-inclusion education and training in Missouri hospitals, clinics, and healthcare academic programs. I staunchly oppose HB 489 and HB 1196. When I first started working at my current hospital here in Missouri, there was a Black mother who had a chronically ill child admitted to the hospital. She previously had been labeled as “difficult” and “resisting treatment” for her child. But after instilling unconscious bias training, and DEI efforts that have been adopted in the hospital, the relationship between the mother and the hospital staff, and her mistrust of the medical staff significantly improved. DEI training and initiatives are imperative to ensure that all patients receive equitable treatment and care and aren’t just broadly deemed as “difficult” without trying to understand their perspective. Thank you for reading my testimony. Your consideration of these matters and solutions is very much appreciated.

DEI allows our state to progress with the rest of the world. We celebrate that we are the “great American melting pot” yet try to erase parts of our history, culture and background. I firmly stand in opposition to these bills that will encourage racism

This proposed bill undermines democratic discourse, deprives students of a true understanding of history and deeper learning, and likely abridges rights guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. By seeking to prescribe what parts of our nation’s history -checkered with discrimination and oppression – can be taught to today’s multiracial students, they intend to deny students the right to receive information and ideas that cultivate deeper thinking and learning. Urge you to vote no.

It is disingenuous and harmful to call diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives “discriminatory.” In fact the existence of such rhetoric demonstrates the need for increasing access to DEI education. To do the opposite, as HB 1196 does by banning DEI statements and practices, is authoritarian and shameful. Why are some of our state representatives so afraid of Missouri residents learning accurate history and practicing ways to improve equity for all? It seems honest and reasonable legislatures would want to increase learning and equity for the benefit of all Missourians. I fully oppose HB 1196.

It is a mistake to penalize institutions of higher education for emphasizing the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Education is a community value and needs to be supported by the community and made accessible to people of all backgrounds.

As a proud fourth generation Missourian, I am disappointed to the marrow of my bones that in the year 2023 these are the hills our leaders are choosing to die on. I was raised in rural south Missouri in an openly racist and oppressive household. I am only the person I am today because teachers in my secondary education settings helped to broaden my understanding of the world and helped me to see the ways willful ignorance of our history perpetuates systems of oppression. I am able to be a free thinking, considerate, and evolving human being because teachers devoted to making the world a better place were given the freedom to tell me the truth after living in a setting that fed me a lifetime of lies. White supremacy is a lie and to usurp it’s stranglehold on our nation we must empower the truth tellers.

I am a Missouri citizen and longtime voter and taxpayer. I am appalled at the ridiculous nature and content of this bill. It’s part of the ongoing witch hunt by Missouri Republicans to attack anyone and everyone who isn’t a straight, white, cis, conservative Christian — all to appeal to an extremist base. The very title of this bill is also ridiculous, because the bill sponsors have every intention of hurting people with this legislation: people of color, queer people, trans people, and everyone else who does not fit the description above. Missouri is an embarrassment, with a long list of real life problems that affect us citizens every single day: #44 for maternal mortality rates, #42 in health care, #40 in health care access, #41 in public health, #30 in education (and failing fast), #45 in crime, etc etc. etc. Diversity, equity and inclusion work improves health care outcomes, according to the National Institutes of Health. DEI improves employee engagement, improves hiring and retention, and drives growth. Why do you think every major corporation dedicates substantial resources to DEI? It’s also the right thing to do, in the spirit of respecting and including people from a diverse range of backgrounds, identities, and abilities.I oppose this harmful bill and urge this committee to stop its progress

These bills reduce learning, hurt patients, and contribute to negative health outcomes and health disparities. If a bill like this passes, it will set a precedent that your peers in higher ed programs in Missouri will have a significantly lesser education everyone else. It will make our state less competitive if curriculum requirements across the board ban teaching the diversity of humanity and how to treat or care for diverse bodies. I have two children remaining at home, both are looking at out-of-state colleges, and never looking back at Missouri.

I support diversity, equity and inclusion like Jesus would do. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?

This bill is a direct attack on diversity, inclusion and equity in Missouri. Though the sponsor said in the hearing that it is to promote diverse dialogue and ideologies on campus, it is absolutely not this at all. It is a knee-jerk reactionary bill to stop “wokeism” in Missouri. This tired, phony straw man certainly has folks worried. It’s almost as if we want to stop new ideas from coming into Missouri to preserve the status quo of the last 200 years. The status quo is a system created by, and therefore for, white privileged males. They are so afraid of the idea of losing grasp on their perceived power that they are afraid to even use the words diversity and equity. Make no mistake. This is NOT about diversity of ideologies. It is about one specific ideology, a tired, old and dangerous one that is about limiting people. It is a vehicle to promote just that tiresome ignorance. Ignorance is the tool of authoritarians and fascists. We should not be that!The young med student who testified had it right: the time to find out you’re hiring someone whose bigotry is so entrenched that they will be unable to keep it from covering their interactions with students through micro- or macro-aggressions is before they are hired. Having a campus dedicated to diversity in thought and practice, to including safe spaces for everyone, and providing equitable opportunities and practices is vital for us to move forward as a state rather than retreating to a past. The national concerns that are promoting these bills have been doing so slowly but surely for 50 years, and it is no coincidence that it started after the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, VRA of 1965 and the proposal of the ERA in the 1970s, when marginalized groups like racial minorities and women began to be able to affect real and lasting change on the status quo. The Gay Rights movement of the last 30 years has supercharged the idea that some need to hold on to their systemic power by returning to the rigged systems of the past. So here’s what I have to say to that: Stop it. You cannot stop an idea whose time has come. So I’ll take the idea of “woke” and run with it. I’d rather be awake, aware and adaptable than seek frightened refuge in archaic ideology.

This legislation will exclude an entire population and bind the ability of educators to address current issues and society as it is currently stands. This bill will not represent me and I therefore oppose it. This legislation will not represent progress but a return to discriminatory past that as a Missourian I hope we can move past.

As a lifelong educator in language and literature, I find the way in which authors of bills such as HB1196 have taken the notion of discrimination against marginalized people and turned it on its head to be both disingenuous and dangerous.We live in a multiracial democracy with a history of shutting whole populations out of certain levels of education. It’s not discriminatory to learn about past discrimination and collaborate in a thoughtful way about continually moving forward. Thus I strongly oppose HB1196.

I am educated as a speech-language pathologist (both of my degrees were earned in Missouri) and one of the requirements for graduation from an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) accredited program – which is required to pursue licensure for speech pathology – is that we learn about DEI topics in the classroom to prepare us for the culturally diverse patients we will see in our clinical rotations and professional practice. It would be a disservice to both the students and the people they will serve in the future to prevent them from learning about topics that will help them to be better clinicians in our schools, clinics, nursing homes, and hospitals. I can’t imagine how I would have possibly provided appropriate and efficacious services to my clients if I had been prohibited from learning about cultural-linguistic groups and gender studies – because I would not have been able to do so except for my majority culture (white) clients. This bill will place Missouri students at a disadvantage compared to those in other states; degrees from Missouri institutions both public and private will not be viewed as sufficient preparation to enter the workforce.

Distinguished Committee Members: [….] the Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM), [is] a non-partisan advocacy organization that represents the 75,000+ students across the University of Missouri System. ASUM stands in opposition to House Bill 1196 for a variety of reasons. First, we are concerned that some of the bill language is written in such a way that it leaves room for possible abuse in interpretation. The prohibition of “DEI-related topics” creates a scope so large that almost any unique characteristic of the human experience could be challenged under this term. One such potential interpretation of “DEI-related topics” that may be of interest to members of this committee is the sincerely held beliefs of both political and religious student groups. This bill would prohibit preferential treatment for these groups and undermine any attempt to recognize their marginalization. However, that directly conflicts with another bill proposed by the General Assembly, HB136, that does just that for belief-based student organizations. The term “Discriminatory ideology” is also misleading in its definition. DEI is not the preferential treatment of people based on these characteristics, but creating an understanding that historical and generational hardships exist as a result of these differences while working to create a more inclusive and equitable society for future generations. Students entering the workforce post-graduation will meet all kinds of different people. The restriction of DEI on college campuses will inhibit students’ ability to properly function and perform in diverse workplace settings by not preparing them for these situations. This would reflect poorly on not only postsecondary institutions, but the state of Missouri as a whole.Finally, in lines 76 and 77, the bill language states there are no legal or financial protections for institutions who institute DEI policies. This leaves institutions of higher education in a gray area where state and federal funding requirements could conflict. Losing funding from either level of government could greatly affect the quality of higher education in the State of Missouri and the size of our workforce.

These bills are government overreach.

Please do not do this.

I am writing as a Missouri citizen in opposition to HB 1196. Changing a narrative or trying to eliminate a relevant conversation does not support our kids. Exposure to different ideas, cultures and narratives is what makes for well rounded future adults. Adults who can think for themselves and makes up their own minds. Censorship does not allow for critical thinking.

“…Censorship does not allow for critical thinking.”

It never has.