White House Issues Memo Limiting Federal Agency Training on Diversity

September 24, 2020

The White House Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum on Sept. 4 directing federal agencies to halt any spending on employee training involving “critical race theory,” concepts such as “white privilege,” or the idea the U.S. is an “inherently racist or evil country.” The memo claims that “millions” have been spent on sessions the Trump administration deems tantamount to “divisive, anti-American propaganda.”

The document follows efforts by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) to track and protest such trainings across federal agencies and institutions. It is not yet clear what the memo’s effect will be on diversity, equity, and inclusion training at federal agencies.

The memo was followed by a White House Executive Order on September 22 — on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping — along with a fact sheet titled “President Trump is Fighting Harmful Ideologies that Cause Division in Our Federal Workplaces“. The document states that “Research shows that blame-focused diversity training reinforces biases and decreases opportunities for minorities.” It also lists administration efforts to history including “To combat disinformation taught in American schools, the President has announced the 1776 Commission, which will promote patriotic education.” FABBS is working with the broad scientific community to better understand the implications of these orders and think through a constructive response.