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Senate’s ‘Anti-Woke Act’ would ban higher education’s DEI offices, initiatives 

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Senate’s ‘Anti-Woke Act’ would ban higher education’s DEI offices, initiatives 

Feb 27, 2024 | 10:55 am ET
By Amelia Ferrell Knisely
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Senate’s ‘Anti-Woke Act’ would ban higher education’s DEI offices, initiatives 
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Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, speakers on the Senate floor on Feb. 26, 2024. Rucker is lead sponsor of a bill labeled both the “The Anti-Woke Act” and “Restoring Sanity Act.” (Will Price | West Virginia Legislative Photography)

A bill dubbed both the “The Anti-Woke Act” and “Restoring Sanity Act” is advancing in the state Senate. The measure largely focuses on banning diversity, equality and inclusion standards in higher education.

The Senate Education Committee approved the measure. Senate Bill 870, on Monday with limited conversation. No one on the Republican-led committee offered up words in support of the bill.

Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, is lead sponsor of the measure. 

Under the legislation, inclusion offices would be prohibited along with “any effort to promote” implicit bias, cultural appropriation, allyship, transgender ideology, anti-racism, systemic oppression, social injustice and other concepts. 

Universities wouldn’t receive state funding unless its administrators filed a report showing the campus was compliant with the legislation. 

“Public institutions of higher education shall reallocate all unexpended moneys appropriated by the Legislature in fiscal year 2024-2025 that would have been expended on DEI offices or DEI officers … to merit scholarships for lower-income and middle-income students and to reduce tuition and mandatory fees for resident students,” the measure said.

The bill also included new standards for public school districts, including that employees would not be required to use a student’s preferred pronoun when referring to the student if the preferred pronoun is not consistent with the student’s biological sex.

The legislation was referred to the Senate Judiciary committee for review.