LGBT+ campaigners have claimed a victory over Donald Trump, after the president sought to ban forms of diversity training among federal contractors and grantees.
Under the controversial executive order signed by Trump in September, organisations in receipt of federal funds are prohibited from training involving so-called “divisive concepts such as critical race theory, white privilege, systemic racism, or implicit or unconscious bias”.
As Trump issued the order, the White House lashed out at a “destructive ideology… grounded in misrepresentations of our country’s history and its role in the world”, as it barred federal contractors from teaching that white people bear collective responsibility for slavery.
Subsequent guidance issued by the Trump White House instructed federal agencies to clamp down on training about intersectionality – the idea that the intersections of race, class, gender and sexual orientation create intersecting layers of privilege and discrimination.
Judge hits pause on Donald Trump’s diversity training ban
While the executive order is already likely destined for the bonfire when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take office next month, a challenge brought by LGBT+ groups has secured a preliminary injunction to prevent the Trump administration from implementing it and cutting funding for federal contractors.
District court judge Beth Labson Freeman ruled on 22 December that a challenge on the grounds of free speech was likely to succeed, noting that “the executive order restricts a federal contractor’s ability to use its own funds, to train its own employees, on matters that potentially have nothing to do with the federal contract”.
The Trump administration had sought to argue it would be in the “public interest” to ban such training, but the judge hit out their claims as a “gross mischaracterisation of the speech [the groups] want to express and an insult to their work of addressing discrimination and injustice towards historically underserved communities”.
The challenge was brought by a coalition of LGBT+ and civil rights groups, including the the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Santa Cruz Diversity Center, the AIDS Foundation, and LGBT+ elder advocacy group SAGE.
Injunction will allow LGBT+ groups to continue providing diversity training
“This injunction could not come at a more crucial time,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “We have already had trainings cancelled because of the threat of this executive order, trainings that are integral to SAGE’s ability to do its work on behalf of LGBT+ older adults in a meaningful and impactful way that recognises explicitly the impact of systemic racism, sexism, and anti-LGBT+ bias on our communities and the country writ large.”
Dr Ward Carpenter of Los Angeles LGBT Center said in a statement: “President Trump’s executive order struck at the very heart of our country’s core principles, limiting freedom of speech and curtailing efforts to explore root causes of inequality.”
Ward added: “We applaud the court’s decision to halt this mean-spirited and destructive executive order, and we look forward to a new administration that will actually support efforts to address systemic discrimination and promote equality.”