Monday, April 8, 2024

APA Opposes Efforts to Ban Diversity Initiatives in Medical Education

On Friday APA issued a statement opposing efforts to ban diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs and initiatives in medical education.

“In today’s medical schools and academic psychiatry departments, the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical to ensure that the next generation of physicians can serve the needs of evolving, diverse, underrepresented, and underserved patient populations,” the statement said.

“Recently, there have been efforts to ban these principles in colleges and universities. This presents a chilling and undesirable development that restricts the ability of medical students and residents studying psychiatry to explore the various factors that impact mental health and wellness,” the statement continued.

According to a DEI legislation tracker by the Chronicle of Higher Education, 82 anti-DEI bills have been introduced in the states and Congress since 2023. Of these, 12 have become law; 12 have final legislative approval; and 35 have been tabled, failed to pass, or vetoed. The actions contained in the legislation include the following:

  • Prohibiting colleges from having diversity, equity, and inclusion offices or staff.
  • Banning mandatory diversity training.
  • Forbidding institutions to use diversity statements in hiring and promotion policies.
  • Barring colleges from considering race, sex, ethnicity, or national origin in admissions or employment.

Last summer, in a decision rendered in Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina that relied in part on racial considerations violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the 14th Amendment. At the time, APA issued a statement against the decision, noting that race-conscious admissions policies are designed to address racial discrimination by recognizing and responding to the structural barriers that hinder access to higher education for underrepresented students.

In its current statement, APA said, “The abilities to discuss, to learn about, and to research topics such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, not limited to but certainly including protected classes such as race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, are essential to foster and ensure a culturally competent psychiatric workforce that can provide high quality care for all patient populations.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “APA Speaks Out Against Supreme Court Ruling on Affirmative Action in Higher Education.”

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