Utah Dems wear black to 'mourn' passage of bills protecting women’s spaces, banning DEI in universities

The Utah Dems wore all black in a press conference to "mourn" the passage of the bills.


Democratic Utah lawmakers wore all black for a press conference on Thursday after the passage of a bill banning DEI offices on college campuses, trainings in government jobs, and statements in job applications, as well as a bill that limits transgender individuals to the bathrooms for their biological sex or gender-neutral bathrooms.

In a clip from the press conference, State Senate Minority Leader Luz Escamilla and others in a group wore black and said they were "hurting" from the passage of the bills. 

Escamilla stated, "We are hurting, and we join our... vulnerable communities through this process."

She went on to explain that the two bills had passed through the Utah State Senate and were then going to the Republican Governor Spencer Cox's desk.

Bill HB257 limits the access of transgender individuals to use bathrooms of their own sex or gender-neutral single-use stalls, unless they have undergone a sex change surgery, while HB261 prohibits discriminatory DEI offices in state-run colleges and universities as well as DEI statements for hiring in public institutions.

Both passed in the Utah State Senate on Thursday. The bill regarding transgender bathroom access faced pushback from protestors, some of whom went into the capitol building.  

The transgender bathroom bill clarifies that the definition of "female" to be the "characteristic of an individual whose biological reproductive system is of the general type that functions in a way that could produce ova."  

"Male," the bill designates, means "the characteristic of an individual whose biological reproductive system is of the general type that functions to fertilize the ova of a female." 

Although the bill will place limits on individuals using opposite-sex bathrooms, all people can still use gender-neutral single-stall and family restrooms in public facilities. These rules apply similarly to school locker rooms.  

The anti-DEI bill has been weeks in the making after Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said that having professors and other staff at public colleges signing onto required diversity statement is "bordering on evil." 

After backlash against his comments, reports that some statements characterized as misleading came from a local Utah outlet, the Salt Lake Tribune, which stated that only 0.015 percent of the budget at the University of Utah goes towards DEI.  

The outlet qualified that the expense defined by the college as "DEI" was "only the main Office of Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion" on campus, although many other DEI committees and offices are at separate schools of the college.   

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