The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a fact sheet to assist K-12 and postsecondary school communities in understanding that diversity, equity, and inclusion training and similar activities in most circumstances are consistent with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The main issue addressed by the fact sheet is whether diversity, equity, and inclusion activities in our schools could violate the antidiscrimination statute, known as Title VI, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. A hostile environment exists where there is conduct (e.g., physical, verbal, graphic, or written) that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to interfere with or limit the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school or college.
According to the Department, whether an activity or program results in prohibited Title VI discrimination requires assessing the totality of the circumstances in each particular case. Title VI does not prohibit activities such as:
- diversity, equity, and inclusion training;
- instruction in or training on the impact of racism or systemic racism;
- cultural competency training or other nondiscrimination trainings;
- efforts to assess or improve school climate, including through creation of student, staff, and/or parent teams, use of community focus groups, or use of climate surveys;
- student assemblies or programs focused on antiharassment or antibullying;
- investigations of, and issuance of reports concerning the causes of, racial disparities within a school; or
- use of specific words in school policies, programs, or activities, such as equity, discrimination, inclusion, diversity, systemic racism, or similar terms.
OCR provides technical assistance regarding compliance with Title VI. To contact OCR for technical assistance, call 1-800-421-3481 (TDD: 1-800-877-8339) or email OCR@ed.gov.
Don’t miss out on our blog posts! Subscribe to the ED311 newsletter.