Oklahoma Governor Forbids State Agencies from Spending on Diversity

(UnitedHeadlines.com) – An executive order issued Dec. 13 by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt will ban state agencies, including public universities and colleges, from using state funds, resources or property to support diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

State-funded diversity, equity and inclusion programs are banned by the executive order “to the extent they grant preferential treatment based” on someone’s ethnicity, national origin, race or color.

The executive order prohibits any mandated training or certification regarding diversity, equity and inclusion. Job applicants cannot be required to provide a diversity, equity and inclusion statement or receive preferential treatment in the hiring process for including a statement. Under the executive order, government departments and public universities are prohibited from requiring preferred pronouns be used.

The ban is effective immediately, and all “non-critical personnel” must be dismissed because the state will no longer provide funding for those positions. However, state agencies and institutions have until May 31 to comply with the order. The state’s 25 public colleges and universities must provide detailed reports of the expenditures related to their former DEI initiatives and job positions. Student organizations that help put on events and programs that already exist that provide access to guest speakers will not be affected by the executive order.

Stitt said Oklahoma will “encourage equal opportunity, rather than promising equal outcomes.” He added that the state’s “workforce, economy, and education systems” would be shifting their focus” toward opportunity and merit” and “away from exclusivity and discrimination.”

In an email to students, faculty and staff, University of Oklahoma President Joseph Harroz Jr. said the executive order effectively ends campus diversity, equity and inclusion offices.

Oklahoma is not the first state to prohibit state funds from being used to support diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. In May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that banned the state’s public universities and colleges from using state funds for DEI programs. On Dec. 13, the University of Wisconsin was ordered to freeze its DEI staff hiring through 2026 and eliminate or refocus close to 40 positions related to diversity.

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