The DEI Invasion: Ideological Creep in Law and Medicine

By Charlotte Allen
Charlotte Allen
Charlotte Allen
Charlotte Allen is the executive editor of Catholic Arts Today and a frequent contributor to Quillette. She has a doctorate in medieval studies from the Catholic University of America.
May 24, 2023Updated: May 24, 2023


Yes, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed into law a measure that will ban the state’s public colleges and universities from spending taxpayer money on “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) programs.

Yes, the Texas House just passed a bill that would follow suit, forbidding public institutions of higher learning from funding both DEI training for faculty and staff and requirements that prospective professors and other employees submit statements detailing their commitment to DEI. And yes, about 17 other states, mostly in the South and Midwest, have anti-DEI bills pending in their legislatures.

It all seems like a much-needed move to get rid of programs that, at best, waste employees’ time and, at worst, are essentially woke-indoctrination sessions that foster racial resentment and amount to backdoor preferential hiring, promotion, and even, in the case of higher education, student-grading policies.

But don’t get your hopes up. The DEI industry is on mission creep, and while anti-DEI measures seem to be curtailing woke brainwashing in some workplaces, DEI promoters have been busy insinuating it into others.

For example, there’s now a move to make DEI a mandatory component of continuing education for all practicing lawyers. Some 11 states now require attorneys to accumulate credit hours in “diversity and inclusion” over set periods of years in order to retain their licenses to practice law. The mandated courses have nothing to do with keeping them up to date in their legal specialties, or even with legal ethics. They’re purely ideological. California, for example, forces its attorneys to complete two credit-hours every three years of courses “dealing with elimination of bias.” Of those two hours, “at least one hour must focus on implicit bias and the promotion of bias-reducing strategies.”

It’s already commonplace for law schools, both public and private, to require that their students either take a course devoted wholly to DEI concepts or to incorporate DEI or “critical race” material into the curricula of their existing required courses.

“[S]tudents will understand the law’s relationship to systemic inequality based on race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, immigration status and/or socioeconomic status,” a report from Loyola University-Los Angeles’s law school says.

The nearby University of Southern California requires all its students to take a course titled “Race, Racism and the Law.” This isn’t surprising: The American Bar Association’s legal education council, whose accreditation is essential for law schools’ reputations as well as their recognition by most states, now requires law students to receive instruction in “bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism” as part of the curriculum.

The legal profession is traveling in tandem with the medical profession. In 2022 the Association of American Medical Colleges released its official DEI competencies (pdf) designed for curriculum development by medical schools, post-graduate residency programs, and faculty training.

The so-called competencies include “describ[ing] the impact of various systems of oppression on health and health care (e.g., colonization, White supremacy, acculturation, assimilation)” and “teach[ing] how systems of power, privilege, and oppression inform policies and practices and how to engage with systems to disrupt oppressive practices.”

The Yale Medical School’s internal-medicine residency program already includes mandatory courses in “structural determinants of health” and “the impact of race-based medicine on clinical care and research.”

This is scary stuff. The words “diversity, equity, and inclusion” sound benign enough on the surface. Almost everyone wants members of minority groups to succeed at their jobs, get a fair shake, and feel welcome in classrooms and workplaces. What DEI really means, though—and you can deduce this from such DEI-literature phrases as “implicit bias,” “White supremacy,” “systemic inequality,” and “systems … of privilege”—is a particular point of view steeped in racial animosity and demands for special treatment for minorities.

UCLA management school professor Gordon Klein was suspended in 2020 when he turned down a student’s request that black students receive leniency in grading their final exams after the death of George Floyd. Klein sued and was reinstated, but the precedent was set for giving members of aggrieved groups preference over their white (and Asian) counterparts in such workplace and classroom decisions as admissions, hiring, tenure, promotion, and salaries. It’s an ideology that privileges group identity over individual performance and group grievances over principles of fairness.

And when this ideology seeps into such professions as law and medicine, its promoters are essentially saying that lawyers and doctors who don’t subscribe to it aren’t welcome. It’s saying that attorneys who want to fight preferential treatment for any race as a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection guarantees, or physicians who believe that every patient deserves care no matter what views he holds or race he belongs to, should seek other lines of work. It’s also saying that belonging to a favored group counts more for advancement than professional competence. It’s saying that only progressives need apply to the professions.

Worst of all, DEI means indoctrinating—or trying to indoctrinate—impressionable young people to believe that such questionable concepts as “implicit bias” and “systemic racism” are real problems demanding drastic political solutions that trample over people’s liberties and wellbeing. Our best hope is that they won’t be so impressionable—that they’ll yawn their way through the DEI training sessions waiting for them to be over so they can turn their attention to the substantive things they need to learn. But that’s a big hope. It’s going to take more than the new Florida law to turn back the DEI invasion and the havoc it’s going to wreak on education of every kind.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.