South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) signed a bill into law Monday banning public colleges and universities in the state from using "divisive" Critical Race Theory-inspired trainings or orientations.
"No student or teacher should have to endorse Critical Race Theory in order to attend, graduate from, or teach at our public universities," Noem said in a statement. "College should remain a place where freedom of thought and expression are encouraged, not stifled by political agendas."
House Bill 1012 outlines seven "divisive concepts" that may no longer be a mandatory part of trainings and orientations for college students or faculty members.
The Board of Regents, the Board of Technical Education and any institution under their control is prohibited from teaching, advocating for, acting upon or promoting that an individual is inherently superior or inferior, or should be discriminated against, based on their race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin.
The institutions are also barred from pushing concepts stating that a person's moral character is determined by their race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin, or that the individuals are racist, sexist oppressive or are inherently responsible for past actions made by other members of the same race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.
Training and orientations suggesting that an individual should feel discomfort or another form of psychological distress due to their race, color, religion, ethnicity or national origin is also banned from the academic institutions, as are trainings and orientations stating that "meritocracy or traits such as a strong work ethic" are racist, sexist or were created by members of a certain race or sex in order to oppress those of a different race or sex.
Additionally, students may not be directed or compelled to personally affirm, adopt or adhere to the seven "divisive concepts."
The bill also takes aim at affirmative action, stating that the aforementioned institutions "may not condition enrollment or attendance in a class, training, or orientation on the basis of race or color."
The legislation notes that it does not prevent "an employee or a contractor who provides mandatory orientation or training from responding to questions that are raised by participants in the orientation or training and which pertain to the divisive concepts."