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Utah Passes Bill Regarding Sex-Based Bathroom Access and DEI in Education

Utah’s recent legislative session saw the passage of two major bills concerning sex-based bathroom access and diversity, equity, and inclusion in education, sparking national interest.

Utah’s Legislature passed two conservative-minded bills last Friday.

The bills focus on sex-based bathroom access and the elimination of DEI programs in public education.

The Bathroom Access Bill

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H.B. 257, titled the Sex-based Designations for Privacy, Anti-bullying, and Women’s Opportunities Act, enforces strict bathroom access rules.

It prohibits men who identify as women from accessing women’s bathrooms in schools and government buildings.

Support for the Bathroom Bill

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Utah State Representative Kera Birkeland, a Republican, sponsored H.B. 257.

She emphasized the need for clear boundaries, stating, “Keeping men from women’s spaces is an appropriate and much needed boundary in Utah and across America.”

Public Support Expressed

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Competitive swimmer Riley Gaines supported the bill.

She thanked Representative Birkeland for her leadership in ensuring men do not access women’s bathrooms.

Addressing DEI in Education

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The other significant bill, H.B. 261, is known as the Equal Opportunity Initiatives Act.

It seeks to eliminate DEI practices in government employment and public education.

Prohibiting DEI Practices

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H.B. 261, sponsored by Utah State Representative Katy Hall, a Republican, bans mandatory DEI submissions and training.

The bill targets what it considers discriminatory DEI practices.

Political Support for H.B. 261

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Former NFL player and current Representative Burgess Owens expressed his support.

He appreciated the efforts to move away from divisive DEI practices in Utah.

Democratic Opposition

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The bills faced strong opposition from Democratic legislators.

In protest, they wore all-black, symbolizing mourning for the impact on marginalized communities.

Governor’s Expected Approval

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Utah Governor Spencer Cox, a Republican, is expected to sign both bills into law.

He has previously expressed strong support for the anti-DEI bill.

Details of the Bathroom Bill

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H.B. 257 includes provisions for defining “male” and “female” based on biological characteristics.

It also details exceptions for unisex or single-occupant facilities.

Opposition to H.B. 257

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Critics argue that H.B. 257 unfairly targets the transgender community.

They see it as discriminatory and singling out a specific group.

Implications of H.B. 261

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The DEI bill, H.B. 261, extends its impact to universities and government entities.

It bars these institutions from maintaining DEI-promoting offices or mandating DEI allegiance.

National Trends in DEI

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Across the United States, there’s been a pronounced rise in DEI initiatives.

However, this increase has also sparked significant backlash.

Supreme Court Ruling and Corporate Response

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In 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down racially discriminatory admissions policies.

This decision led to a decrease in corporate DEI budgets and strategies.

The Shifting DEI Landscape

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A report by Paradigm Strategies Inc. noted a notable shift in the DEI landscape.

The year 2023 marked a turning point, with external forces pushing back against DEI investments.

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