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On December 22, 2020, a federal district court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against President Trump’s Executive Order 13950 — Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, affirming that prohibiting anti-racism and anti-discrimination workplace training may be a violation of the First Amendment.

This injunction comes Santa Cruz Lesbian and Gay Community Center, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al (Case No. 5:20-cv-07741-BLF). Plaintiffs, who are non-profit community organizations and consultants that serve the LGBT community and people living with HIV, filed suit against President Trump challenging the constitutionality of Executive Order 13950.

Executive Order 13950’s title, “Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping,” is a dangerous misnomer. The order perpetuates the false notion that to identify and disrupt oppressive systems, such as racism or sexism, is divisive and regressive. Executive Order 13950 prevented those who contract with or are granted funds by the federal government from providing diversity training. In short, it sought to set civil rights back by instilling divisive language to empower systems of oppression and halting crucial progress towards equity.

Plaintiffs provide necessary advocacy and training to various entities, including health care providers, local government agencies, local businesses, and their own employees about systemic bias, racism, anti-LGBT bias, white privilege, implicit bias, and intersectionality. These trainings are fundamental to their mission of breaking down barriers that prevent underserved communities from receiving quality health care.

The nationwide preliminary injunction that arose out of Santa Cruz Lesbian and Gay Community Center, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al. prevents the enforcement of Executive Order 13950 until its legality is decided through litigation. The Court noted in its order that the Government created “a false comparison to place itself in a favored position” and falsely suggested that “the public’s interest to combat race and sex stereotyping in federal and contractor workforces far outweighs Plaintiffs’ competing interest in performing workplace training that furthers race and [sic] sex stereotypes and scapegoating.” (Pg. 29 of the Order Granting in Part Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Nationwide Preliminary Injunction) The Government’s position is contradictory, divisive, and incorrect. The Court sides with Plaintiffs, agreeing that the Government’s argument was a “gross mischaracterization of the speech Plaintiffs want to express and an insult to their work of addressing discrimination and injustice towards historically underserved communities. That this Government dislikes this speech is irrelevant to the analysis but permeates their briefing.” The Court’s order is a relief, yet not surprising given the Trump administration’s legally devoid and factually incorrect position.

Executive Order 13950 was ultimately a federal backlash to the wave of employers committing to provide anti-racism and diversity training in response to the continued oppression and state-sanctioned violence perpetrated against Black lives. As echoed in our blog post, Black Lives Matter, Including at Work, the memorandum and executive order’s assessment of anti-racism and anti-discrimination training is incorrect. Employers who educate their workforce can better identify and dismantle barriers to equity and, in doing so, communicate that they value their employees. We applaud Plaintiffs for fighting against injustice to ensure that our country continues to move forward towards progress and equity.