As part of the Division 16 President’s 2023 presidential initiative, this task force is being created to address the legislative attempts to censor diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) work in higher education. The task force will collect and track data on state-level legislative initiatives and activities that oppose DEIJ and promote censorship of individuals in higher education.

The task force’s primary objective is to keep Division 16 members informed about legislative bills in each state and provide recommendations to advocate for DEIJ initiatives to remain in higher education. Additionally, task force members will leverage psychological science to advocate for DEIJ work’s value in practice, policy, and research. To achieve its objectives, the task force will crowdsource data and participate in virtual meetings.


“There is a legislative war on education in America” (PEN America, 2022). Bills legislating educational censorship in schools, colleges, universities, and libraries have been on the rise in the past few years. These bills emerged during the 2021 legislative session and rapidly spread to statehouses across the country.  By the end of 2021, 54 bills had been proposed in 22 states, with 12 being passed into law.  At the state level, legislative bodies in many states have increased the production of bills, referred to as educational gag orders— state legislative efforts to censor educators from teaching about topics such as critical race theory, gender, LGBTQ+ identities, and aspects of American history such as slavery, Jim Crow, and Japanese internment.  Examples of such bills include Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, the “Stop Woke Act,” and other “divisive concepts” bills. Educational gag order bills are attacking higher education institutions at an extraordinary rate.  There are bills that ban public universities from having DEI offices, and other bills that prohibit including diversity statements in hiring processes.  Some of the more recent bills in 2023 bring censorship to extreme levels with punitive consequences including loss of state funding for institutions, termination of faculty, and even criminal charges for educators.  As the number of bills related to educational gag orders continue to increase rapidly, it is crucial for proponents of free expression in education to take action and respond collectively to these initiatives.

The goals of the task force will be to (1) identify and monitor all “educational gag order” bills being proposed in each state; (2) provide the Division 16 membership regular updates on state-level efforts to censor higher education DEIJ initiatives; and (3) recommend actions for advocacy.

Proposed task force membership:

The Division 16 Executive Committee seeks up to eight (8) members (including a Chair) to serve on this task force. Graduate student members of Division 16 are welcome to apply. Ideally, task force members will be:

  • Familiar with the processes and procedures of state legislatures
  • Aware of timelines associated with state legislative sessions
  • Able to draft brief summaries of educational gag order bills
  • Recognize the implications of such bills for K-12 schools and higher education institutions
  • Willing to collaborate with other task force members to recommend actions for advocacy

Those interested in serving on the task force should submit:

  • A one-page (maximum) letter specifically articulating how qualifications relate to the areas of expertise outlined above
  • A brief CV that highlights experience and knowledge related to the charge of this task force.

Questions and materials should be sent by May 15th, 2023 to Janine Jones, Division 16 Vice President for Professional Affairs, at Please enter “D16 Task Force” in the subject line.