LGBT groups filed a lawsuit on Monday against the Trump administration and President Donald Trump in his official capacity, asking a federal court to declare the president’s executive order on “Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping” (Executive Order 13950) “unlawful.” The plaintiffs say that the order, which bans federal contractors from “race or sex scapegoating” in diversity and inclusion training, violates the First and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution.
The plaintiffs are the Los Angeles LGBT Center, CrescentCare, Dr. Ward Carpenter, the Diversity Center of Santa Cruz, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), and B. Brown Consulting, LLC. The plaintiffs said that they “work every day to combat the systemic barriers to equality that continue to exist in health care, education, housing, social services, and the juvenile and criminal justice systems.”
“To do this, they deploy a variety of training tools—including the discussion of historic and current systemic racism, sexism, anti-LGBT bias, implicit bias, intersectionality, and cultural humility,” the lawsuit continued. “The President wants to suppress this speech, no matter how effective it is, or how crucial it is to protecting vulnerable people from harm, because acknowledging these systemic barriers that threaten the lives of some people can make others uncomfortable.”
Plaintiffs alleged that President Trump signed this executive order merely for “reasons of ideology and partisan advantage”:
However, for reasons of ideology and partisan advantage, President Donald J. Trump and others in his Administration have labeled trainings and grant-funded work that incorporate such concepts “offensive” and “un-American” for calling attention to the lamentable extent to which the Nation still fails to live up to its ideals. The President has declared by fiat that that the country is not racist or sexist, and has sought to silence speech calling out these failings. Through Executive Order 13950 (the “Executive Order”), the President purports to outlaw any training, whether of federal employees, or by or for government contractors or grant recipients, that uses a list of “divisive concepts” with which the President disagrees. Seeking to leverage the federal government’s vast reach throughout the economy to control private thought and speech, the President has instructed federal agencies to condition federal contracts and grants— including those completely unrelated to the trainings at issue—on parties’ commitment to silence themselves regarding these concepts.
As noted by the Department of Labor (DOL), which is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, the executive order made it policy for the U.S. “not to promote race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating”; it banned federal contractors, like the plaintiffs, from such promotion in diversity and inclusion programs.
The DOL also listed examples of banned “race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating”:
Race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating includes the concepts that:
One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously;
An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex;
Members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex;
An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex;
An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
Any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex; or
Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.
The plaintiffs said that the executive order effectively bans health care workers from “discussing the historical backdrop that informs science today because this could be regarded by agencies as training that teaches that ‘the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist.’”
Therefore, they asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to declare the executive order “unlawful” and “unconstitutional.” The plaintiffs also asked a federal judge to block the implementation and enforcement of the order.