The North Carolina General Assembly is looking to pass legislation during this year’s legislative session that would restrict teachings on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at public schools across the state.

During a committee meeting of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees last week, Jim Blaine, former chief of staff to Senate Leader Phil Berger, indicated that North Carolina could be one of the next states to defund DEI teachings at public schools.  

“It’s my belief that it is likely that the Board of Governors or the state legislature will follow Florida’s path as it relates to DEI this year,” Blaine said at the meeting. 

Inside sources confirmed to the Carolina Journal that the General Assembly is currently discussing possible action on DEI legislation. Potential legislation could ban materials or defund schools that participate in DEI teachings, which critics argue stirs division among groups.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has led efforts to defund DEI programs at public universities across his state. In January, the Board of Governors, which oversees Florida’s university system, heeded to the new legislation by prohibiting the use of state funds on DEI.

“I think what I’ve seen, in my opinion, is that DEI creates and exacerbates problems on this campus and doesn’t solve them,” Blaine stated. “So I hope that they do move forward in eliminating DEI. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

According to reports from the Martin Center for Academic Renewal, DEI has become a part of the strategic plans of all 16 schools that make up the UNC system. DEI staff salaries total over $11 million throughout the UNC system, with UNC-Chapel Hill employing 35 DEI staff members. Topping DEI employment at schools across the state is North Carolina State University, with 36 DEI administrators. 

If the General Assembly institutes DEI regulations, public universities would likely lose funding for large departments that are completely designed to advance DEI ideas. UNC-Chapel Hill, which maintains the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, did not respond to requests for comments. Last summer, UNC’s School of Medicine disbanded its DEI task force after the UNC system passed a policy banning compelled speech. The task force promoted ideas such as “Understanding that America’s medical system is structurally racist.” The compelled speech policy prohibits the university from mandating individuals make statements that require attesting to or affirming beliefs concerning current political debate or social action as part of the hiring or admission process.

“Indeed, if yesterday’s Board of Trustees meeting is any indicator, UNC-CH may be girding itself for serious DEI cuts,” an article from the Martin Center states. “A remark that the state may soon force UNC-System schools to eliminate DEI spending and reallocate funding was met with considerable agreement and approval.”

SEE ALSO: DEI in NC medical schools and hospitals spark concerns over patient safety

In recent months, North Carolina has made national headlines for operations that put DEI policies at the forefront of priorities. Chapel Hill-Carboro City Schools has faced criticism on the Libs of TikTok account for implementing race-based disciplinary policies. An investigation into the private Duke Health revealed that health facilities recruit based on race instead of merit.

Rep. Dan Bishop responded by saying, “The law on this is very clear, and it will be enforced” if he is elected state attorney general this November.

At the federal level, North Carolina Rep. Greg Murphy introduced a bill in Congress last week that would ban race-based mandates in medical schools following reports that Duke Health chooses surgeons based on race. 

“The EDUCATE Act compels medical schools and accrediting agencies to uphold colorblind admissions processes and prohibits the coercion of students who hold certain political opinions,” Murphy said. “Diversity strengthens medicine, but not if it’s achieved through exclusionary practices. Medicine is about serving others and doing the best job possible in every circumstance. We cannot afford to sacrifice the excellence and quality of medical education at the hands of prejudice and divisive ideology.”

SEE ALSO: EDUCATE Act would end race-based mandates in medical schools