“A Betrayal of Our Utah Values:” Utah & Salt Lake County Democrats Call Out Utah Republicans for Self-Serving Attacks on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Ben Anderson, Communications Director
Phone: +1 (801) 830-0645
Email: press@utdem.org


SALT LAKE CITY, January 17, 2024 — This afternoon, the House Education Committee debated, and ultimately passed, House Bill 261: “Equal Opportunity Initiatives”, a bill which would eliminate diversity, equity, and inclusion departments from all public institutions, and which would ban those institutions from considering anti-racism, racial privilege, or systemic discrimination in hiring.

This bill is directly oppositional to the Utah Compact on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which was signed in December 2020 by dozens of state leaders, including high-profile Republicans like then-Governor Herbert, then-Lieutenant Governor Cox, Senate President Adams, and more. 

The Compact promised to “…advance solutions to racial ills by listening and creating policies that provide equal opportunity and access to education, employment, housing and health care,” which is exactly what DEI programs exist to do. The fact that Republican leaders have now completely reversed course (Governor Cox even called DEI hiring practices “bordering on evil”) is a searing indictment of just how far they will go to appease the right-wing of their base, throwing communities of color under the bus for their own political gain.

“Three years ago, state and community leaders of both parties came together in a commitment to fight back against systemic racism. Unfortunately, House Bill 261 represents a major deviation from that commitment, and a huge step backwards for our state,” said Utah Democratic Party Chair Diane Lewis. “These out-of-touch culture wars are a betrayal of our Utah values: love for our neighbors, determination to allow everyone a fair shot at success, and embracing, not ignoring, our differences.

“This bill will have drastic  ramifications for years to come. This Republican-led legislation threatens jobs and explicitly targets minority and underrepresented communities, including but not limited to, Black, Latino, Women, Indigenous, and LGBTQ groups in Utah,” said Salt Lake County Democratic Party Chair Jade Velazquez. “I’m most concerned about the impact of this legislation on students of color. Utahns must stand united against this reprehensible bill and amplify our voices for what is right for our community. Democrats stand with communities of color and recognize that their lived experiences matter. We are asking all Utahns to please take action before it is too late and call on Governor Cox and his Republican colleagues to unequivocally denounce this bill.”


“Organize Utah” is the Utah Democratic Party’s 2024 coordinated campaign, bringing together candidates, county parties, and other organizations in a unified effort to defeat Republican extremism and elect Democrats up and down the ballot.

For more information, please contact Ben Anderson at press@utdem.org or 801-860-0645.

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