Lambda Legal Hails Biden Administration Rescission of Trump Ban on Speech about Systemic Racism, Sexism, and Implicit Bias

Browse By

Blog Search

January 20, 2021
President Biden

Among the first actions taken after his inauguration, President Biden today rescinded the Trump administration executive order that prohibited federal contractors and grantees from conducting workplace diversity trainings or engaging in grant-funded work that explicitly acknowledges and confronts the existence of structural racism and sexism in our society. In late December, Lambda Legal secured a nationwide preliminary injunction in federal district court blocking enforcement of the executive order against all federal contractors and grantees. This court order prevented the executive order from impacting millions of Americans who work for federally-funded employers until President Biden could rescind it today.

“This welcome move by President Biden underscores the priority he attaches to the United States government grappling honestly with implicit bias, racism and sexism in this country,” said Noel Twilbeck, Chief Executive Officer at CrescentCare. “As a Federally Qualified Health Center, we are a provider of crucial services for the most vulnerable in our community. Our patients and staff reflect the diversity of the city of New Orleans, many of whom live at the intersection of being Black, Brown, LGBTQ, an immigrant, or living with HIV. As such, training on systemic racism, sexism, and implicit bias are essential in addressing the disparities that exist within our organization, communities, and health care systems.”

Today’s action rescinded the Trump administration Executive Order, issued September 22, 2020, and later Trump administration guidance that labeled the discussion of intersectionality, critical race theory, white privilege, systemic racism, or implicit or unconscious bias in diversity training as “race and sex scapegoating” and forbade agencies from “promot[ing]” these “divisive concepts.” The order described such trainings as un-American, directed agency heads to audit internal training curricula and discontinue these trainings, to conduct a similar audit of federal contractors, and to suspend or deny funding to contractors and grantees whose trainings or grant-funded activities cover these topics.

“The Trump administration’s effort to quash any discussion of the continued pernicious impact of structural racism, implicit bias, and sexism in U.S. society was both gratuitous and harmful,” said Scott Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director, Lambda Legal. “This past summer’s protests after the murder of George Floyd and the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color have made that very clear. Joe Biden campaigned on a promise to confront these issues. Today, the Biden Administration has reaffirmed its commitment to undertake an honest and long overdue reckoning with sexism and structural racism in our society.”

On November 2, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit challenging the ban in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of a consulting company, an individual plaintiff, and six organizational plaintiffs. The organizational plaintiffs include LGBT Centers, an advocacy and service organization for LGBT seniors, and HIV/AIDS health and advocacy organizations from across the country.

The consultancy plaintiff is B. Brown Consulting, a Michigan-based business with a federal contract to train correctional facility staff, governmental agencies, and nonprofits. The individual plaintiff is Dr. Ward Carpenter, co-director of Health Services at LA LGBT Center. The organizational plaintiffs include: the Los Angeles LGBT Center; The Diversity Center in Santa Cruz, CA; AIDS Foundation of Chicago; CrescentCare in New Orleans, LA; Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, PA; and, SAGE, based in New York City.

See the Biden Executive Order here:

The lawsuit is The Diversity Center v. Trump. Read more about the case here:

More about the clients is available here:

Lambda Legal’s team working on the case includes: Camilla Taylor; Karen Loewy; Scott Schoettes; Currey Cook; Omar Gonzalez-Pagan; Avatara A. Smith-Carrington; Alexis Paige; and, Cheryl Angelaccio. They are joined by pro-bono co-counsel from Ropes & Gray, including: Douglas Hallward-Driemeier; Kirsten Mayer; Nathalia Sosa; Jessica Soto; Thanithia Billing; Annie Monjar; Jennifer Cullinane; Ethan Weinberg; Fred Boehrer; and, William Richard Allen.