Civil Rights Groups and Allies Condemn White House Move to Censor Race and Gender Equity Training

View a PDF of this statement here.

October 7, 2020

Civil Rights Groups and Allies Condemn White House Move to Censor Race and Gender Equity Training

Washington, DC, October 7, 2020 –  121 civil rights groups and allies, including NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the National Women’s Law Center condemn the Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping issued by President Trump on September 22, 2020.  The Executive Order is a blatant effort to perpetuate and codify a deeply flawed and skewed version of American history. It promotes a particular vision of history that glorifies a past rooted in white supremacy while silencing the viewpoints and experiences of all who have been victimized by individual and structural inequalities – a kind of dangerous propaganda or thought-policing comparable only to authoritarian regimes. The Executive Order attempts to erase the very concept of racism and sexism as being real, historical and present-day phenomena and undermines important and necessary employer initiatives aimed at understanding and dismantling racist, sexist, and discriminatory structures. The American people will suffer real harm and unjust consequences when those charged with serving the public do not learn the facts necessary to do their jobs effectively and equitably.

Our country is in the midst of a long overdue conversation about deeply entrenched, structural racism after the senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black individuals and during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is disproportionately ravaging communities of color. People of all races continue to come together in protests and demonstrations against police violence, white supremacy, and structural racism – issues that are tearing apart the fabric of our nation. Our nation also faces a continuing reckoning on sexual violence, a legacy that also pervades our nation’s workplaces, schools, and homes and disproportionately affects Black women, girls, and transgender people. Conversations focused on racial and gender equity have made their way into the workplaces and boardrooms, with countless employers and businesses publicly supporting the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements and making strong commitments to confront and work to eliminate systemic racism and end sexual harassment, including sexual assault.

Instead of seeking effective solutions to dismantle racism and misogyny at a time when so many are calling for transformative policy solutions, the Trump administration has issued a burdensome and divisive executive order, seeking to broadly curtail and deter diversity, equity, and inclusion training efforts by government agencies, federal contractors and sub-contractors, federal grantees, and the U.S. military. The order in part calls on the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), a critical enforcement agency, to go on a fishing expedition to identify trainings that may run afoul of the broad and vague order. The sweeping order also continues Trump’s attacks on LGBTQ+ communities, and has already led to canceling several racial, gender, and LGBTQ+ equity trainings. This gross overreach of executive authority unnecessarily diverts the OFCCP’s very scarce resources from the urgent task of tackling real discrimination during an unprecedented pandemic when Black and Brown workers and women, especially Black and Latina women, are losing their jobs at disproportionately higher rates.

Throughout his tenure in office, President Trump has established his support for white supremacists while demonstrating deep hostility to civil rights and racial justice. Just last week during the first presidential debate, President Trump publicly told the Proud Boys, a group designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, to “stand back and stand by,” while also absurdly claiming that racial sensitivity trainings that address white privilege or critical race theory are “racist” and “teach[ ] people to hate our country.” President Trump continues to face multiple, credible allegations of sexual assault, while his administration has belittled survivors and sought to limit protections for them on campuses. Consistent with his actions and rhetoric during the course of this presidency, the order is not only a bald attempt to stifle progress towards racial equity and gender justice in our nation’s workplaces, it is an effort to assert autocracy, manipulate thought, and chill the significant efforts that employers have undertaken to increase diversity and inclusion for the benefit of all who live and work in this country.

The undersigned groups urge organizations and workplaces committed to anti-racism and gender justice to continue prioritizing robust diversity, equity and inclusion programs aimed at providing equal opportunity to people of color, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, people with disabilities and veterans. We must not let this administration get in the way of our fight for a better America where all are truly equal under the law.

Sincerely,

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

National Women’s Law Center

ACCESS

ADL
American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

American Atheists

American Civil Liberties Union

American Federation of Teachers

American Foundation for the Blind

American Humanist Association

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund

Americans United for Separation of Church & State

Arab American Institute (AAI)

Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Augustus F. Hawkins Foundation

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

California Employment Lawyers Association

Caring Across Generations

Center for American Progress

Center for Community Progress

Center for Disability Rights

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Center for Public Representation

Center for Responsible Lending

Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues

Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap

Consumer Action

Consumer Federation of America

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

Education Law Center-PA

EMC Strategies

Epilepsy Foundation

Equal Pay Today

Equal Rights Advocates

Feminist Majority Foundation

Georgia Budget & Policy Institute

Global Policy Solutions

GLSEN

Golden State Opportunity

Hindu American Foundation

Hispanic Federation

Human Rights Campaign

ICA

Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence

Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Interfaith Alliance

Jane Doe Inc.

Jewish Women International

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

Justice for Migrant Women

KWH Law Center for Social Justice and Change

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

Lambda Legal

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Legal Aid at Work

Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault

MANA, A National Latina Organization

Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Michigan Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence

Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

NAACP

National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE)

National Alliance to End Sexual Violence

National Center for Law and Economic Justice

National Center for Parent Leadership, Advocacy, and Community Empowerment (National PLACE)

National Center for Youth Law

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Coalition for the Homeless

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)

National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients)

National Council of Jewish Women

National Council on Independent Living

National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)

National Education Association

National Employment Law Project

National Employment Lawyers Association

National Fair Housing Alliance

National Housing Law Project

National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center

National LGBTQ Task Force

National Organization for Women

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)

National Resource Sharing Project

National Urban League

National WIC Association

Native Women Lead

Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence

New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault

OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates

Pacific Community Ventures

PFLAG National

Poverty & Race Research Action Council

Public Citizen

RespectAbility

Revolving Door Project

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

TASH

The Advocacy Institute

The Arc of the United States

The Sikh Coalition

TIME’S UP Foundation

Union for Reform Judaism

United State of Women

United Steelworkers

Well Suited

Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Women’s Law Project

Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, Saint Mary’s College

Woodstock Institute

YWCA Cambridge