Anti-DEI laws

The governor’s signing of SB129  in Alabama today will have wide-reaching implications for many within the state and will most certainly have ripple effects throughout the nation as other groups seek to implement similar restrictions. The law prohibits state funded DEI initiatives and offices and bans inclusion of “divisive content” across a variety of public settings, including schools, state agencies, and public universities. The law also requires individuals to use the bathrooms based on their biological sex.  Aside from being an incredible encroachment on the rights of individuals and institutions, the law, in my opinion, will lead to the further decline of secondary literacy education practices meant to prepare adolescents for life after graduation and participation in society.


Secondary literacy instruction builds upon traditional literacy instruction to encourage students to become critical readers and consumers of texts, engage in civil discourse, and navigate multiple texts, including those found in digital spaces. These texts will support their understanding of the world and will shape their identities over time. Cultural understanding and the evaluation of multiple perspectives, abilities encouraged by DEI initiatives and critical discussions in the classroom, are paramount for contemporary learners who are actively constructing their identities and relationships to larger society. Learning these skills will help them to navigate information in the globalized world and prompt them to engage in discussion to sharpen their communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution skills that will serve them after graduation. 


Schools are already facing uphill battles in the inclusion of media, information, and critical literacy initiatives, and laws such as this that ban the discussion of “divisive content” will only add to our students leaving high school without the ability to engage in civil discourse. As proponents of this law mask their intentions behind the banner of “protecting” our children, the very real threats to our children - the deterioration of the American education system, the polarization of our political and social landscape, and the perpetuation of social injustice through our institutions (amongst others) - remain unaddressed by lawmakers. From an educational standpoint, we have to implement strong contemporary literacy curriculum, including critical and media literacy practices embedded in everyday instruction, to firmly prepare our children for the future and provide them with the skills to bridge the ever-growing polarization infecting our nation.