How New Utah Diversity Bill Affects Southern Utah Schools
The Utah legislature continues to tweak and revise potential policies throughout January, and one of the more notable bills involves the possible disbanding of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs across the eight public universities in Utah.
Utah Governor Spencer Cox said these programs aren’t effective enough in fulfilling their intended purpose, which is to spread equality in learning environments.
The bill would see more than 20 people lose their jobs throughout these DEI programs in Utah. Schools such as Utah Tech University would be affected by this change, but the bill is still undertaking various revisions during the 2024 Utah legislation.
One aspect that isn’t touched on much with this potential bill is the effect the policy would have on K-12 schools in Utah. DEI programs aren’t just limited to places of higher education like colleges and universities, many K-12 schools also implement the same programs to encourage diversity among the student body.
I wanted to find out if the Washington County School District would be affected by this potential change, so I got in touch with Steven Dunham, the director of communications and foundations for the WCSD.
With the current version of the bill, nothing would change in Washington County’s K-12 schools if the policy made it through the legislature.
Dunham said, “It doesn’t really impact us at all. We do not have a dedicated department or staff like the universities do. Our main focusing goal is to treat every child with kindness, and so we move forward with that, and this really does not impact us at all.”
If the bill were to change, Dunham said they would work in compliance with any changes the legislature deems necessary with the Utah Board of Education assisting with the possible transition.
Dunham said, “Normally when a law is passed, there is a review done by the state board of education, and they will give us some additional guidelines. Once we get those guidelines, we’ll review those just to ensure we’re in compliance with the new law, but we don’t believe that it’s going to make any difference for us here in Washington County at all.”
To find out more about the potential DEI bill, including the effect it could have on sovereign nations like the Ute Tribe, check out the January 25 volume of KDXU Sunrise Stories.