Protect Indiana’s educators: Sign the petition to stop SB 202 from passing!

Note: The Indianapolis Liberation Center asks all of our supporters to sign and share the petition for individuals and organizations to reject SB 202.

The Petition: For individuals and organizations

Currently, SB 202 is moving swiftly through the Indiana House, with a possible vote on Tuesday, February 27.  The bill has tremendous negative implications—limiting the ability of Indiana’s educators to talk about civil rights, racism, and discrimination.

The time to show our opposition to the bill is right now! Below is the statement drafted by members of the University Alliance for Racial Justice, calling out the discriminatory aspects of SB 202. Please read the statement, and if you agree, sign the petition as either an individual or organization.

We are asking all who sign to do so by 9:00 AM, Monday, February 26. The goal of the University Alliance for Racial Justice is to obtain signatures of 50 organizations and hundreds of individual signers and to push this petition out to the media Monday afternoon, in advance of the house vote.

So please share this statement and blast out the sign-on links as widely as you can! It is time to stop this bill!

Sign and share the petition for individuals and for organizations now!

Statement on the Civil Rights Implications of Senate Bill 202
[Drafted by the University Alliance for Racial Justice, 2/22/24]

We the undersigned organizations and individuals in the state of Indiana, concerned about equity, justice and fairness for all Hoosiers, write this letter in firm opposition to Senate Bill 202. 

Although we join those who oppose the negative consequences, such as loss of tenure, that could be imposed upon University faculty, what is most important and most egregious about the bill is the fact that such sanctions would be imposed as a consequence for speaking about discrimination and racism in higher education classes in the state of Indiana.

While authors of the bill claim that its focus is to increase “intellectual diversity,” the facts make it clear that, like K-12 “anti-CRT” bills before it, the primary purpose of the bill is to limit speech concerning current and historical racism and discrimination:

  • The bill is a virtual copy of a Florida bill, SB 266, that eliminated tenure by instituting a five year review for all university faculty, based on whether that instructor adhered to the law’s ban on teaching about DEI.  SB 202 simply replaces the term DEI with “intellectual diversity.” 
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been a primary target for the radical legislators who have introduced this copycat legislation in numerous states.  SB 202 is simply one more example of what Christopher Rufo, an architect of the educational censorship movement, called “a playbook for state legislators to abolish DEI bureaucracies.”
  • Sponsors of SB 202 claim it is meant to protect conservative speech in educational settings. Yet the victims of such civil rights censorship legislation have not been conservative faculty or students, but rather school superintendentsprincipals and teachers fired from their jobs for promoting cultural diversity, or scared into silence by the prospect of losing their job or license for supporting fairness and justice for marginalized students.

Although the bill attaches the term intellectual diversity to existing state statute on cultural diversity, the bill’s provisions will in fact do serious harm to cultural diversity efforts in Indiana. Faculty who value diversity, justice and equity will run the risk of reprimand or even termination for speaking out in their classrooms on racism and discrimination.  The bill describes procedures by which students may in Orwellian fashion turn in a professor guilty of promoting diversity without giving equal time to other perspectives (such as racism?).  There can be no doubt that faculty and students of color, receiving a clear message from such provisions that their efforts are no longer valued in Indiana, will seek to advance their careers in states without such laws, thereby turning back the clock on the diversity of our colleges and universities.

Ironically, the draconian penalties that SB 202 seeks to impose for promoting discussion about cultural diversity will drastically reduce intellectual diversity in Indiana’s colleges and universities, and will do so in a way that discriminates against entire segments of our population.

Sadly, SB 202 carries forward a tradition of seeking to silence those who speak out against racial injustice.  Southern slaveholders at the Constitutional convention succeeded in having the words “slave” or “slavery”  removed from the Constitution, and prohibiting Congress from even discussing slavery for 20 years. For the “crime” of speaking openly about the racism of White America in the 50’s and 60’s, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was repeatedly jailed and pursued relentlessly by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

In short, like the “anti-CRT” legislation twice rejected by the General Assembly, SB 202 attempts to enforce silence on civil rights by providing severe penalties for University educators seeking to teach about historical and current discrimination.

By promoting censorship and chilling free expression, SB 202 takes away the most potent tool that advocates for fairness and justice have for opposing racism and discrimination: The freedom to call out injustice. By legislating silence, it paves the way for a dramatic increase in incidents targeting those who have always been targeted by hatred and discrimination.

Unlike states that seem to welcome the censorship of civil rights discussion, Indiana has a proud tradition, since the days of the underground railroad, of providing a haven for minority groups that have been targeted and marginalized. We call on representatives in both houses of the Indiana General Assembly to preserve that tradition by soundly rejecting SB 202.

Featured: A protest in support of reinstating Anthony Monteiro to the African American Studies Program at Temple University after the tenured professor was fired for his radical politics. Credit: Party for Socialism and Liberation