Photo Credit: Javonne Goodman, BLM Utah
Governor Spencer Cox speaking at the 2023 Fire Sense kickoff event with grassy mountains in the background, June 6, 2023.

Back in January 2021, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed into law the Utah Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, affirming that all people are created equal under God, and so, “A racially equitable state requires us to act and create a society in which race and ethnicity do not determine or limit value, opportunity, and life outcomes.”

DEI has faced allegations of neglecting or potentially exacerbating antisemitism. Andria Spindel, from the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation, asserts that the DEI curriculum has largely overlooked antisemitism. The connection between DEI and campus antisemitism drew increased scrutiny following the 2023 Hamas attack on Israel and the Gaza war.


On Tuesday, the same Gov. Cox, approved Utah’s anti-DEI bill, HB261, initiating a comprehensive reversal of diversity initiatives throughout public education and government at the state level, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Cox joined Republican governors of several states, including Texas and Florida, saying, “We’ve been concerned about some DEI programs and policies, particularly with hiring practices, and this bill offers a balanced solution.”

The bill forbids state education institutions from ordering their staff to sign any diversity statement. They cannot ask applicants about their beliefs about DEI before they are hired, a requirement which the governor has described as “bordering on evil.”

Cox declared HB261 protects all Utahns, as does an earlier bill he endorsed, HB257, barring transgender residents of Utah from using bathrooms and locker rooms in government buildings.

Cox believes his new take on DEI is more benign than that of his fellow GOP governors. “I’m grateful to the Legislature for not following the lead of other states that simply eliminated DEI funding with no alternative path for students who may be struggling,” he said, explaining that “Instead, this funding will be repurposed to help all Utah students succeed regardless of their background.”

On Tuesday, Utah Senate Democrats collectively declared in a statement that HB261 is poised to undo the strides made in constructing a more inclusive society.

Back when he was pro-DEI, Gov. Cox hired Nubia Peña to serve in the governor’s office as senior advisor for equity and opportunity. No one in his office knows whether Peña will stay on after her job description is officially switched from promoting a racially equitable society to “bordering on evil.”

Incidentally, did we mention that the first-term governor is facing reelection in November?

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