Palsgaard v. Christian: California Community Colleges administrators compel professors to parrot the state’s views on DEIA in the classroom


Case Overview

Palsgaard v. Christian - Verified Complaint

In May 2022, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors approved diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) regulations requiring all community college professors to incorporate the state’s views on DEIA into their teaching. 

On August 17, 2023, FIRE filed suit on behalf of six professors in the State Center Community College District against California Community Colleges state officials and district officials in State Center Community College District, seeking to halt the state’s unconstitutional rules and the district’s enforcement of the rules through its faculty contract.  FIRE filed the related motion for preliminary injunction on August 23, 2023.

The DEIA Rules mandate viewpoint conformity, compel professors to teach and preach the State’s perspective on DEIA, impose a prior restraint on the sharing of contrary views, and subject professors to an array of overbroad, vague, and arbitrary requirements.

Professors must “acknowledge” that “cultural and social identities are diverse, fluid, and intersectional,” and “advocate for and advance DEI and anti-racist goals and initiatives” including “participating in DEI groups, committees, or community activities that promote systemic and cultural change to close equity gaps and support minoritized groups.” Local college districts are required to evaluate faculty performance and tenure review based on their embrace and use of the state’s views on DEIA.

But the government may not impose political or ideological litmus tests on college faculty as a condition of employment or advancement. The First Amendment protects the right of college faculty to teach and speak free from state interference. The DEIA regulations unconstitutionally compel professors to embed and endorse contested ideological views in their academic activities and restrict expression of contrary views through an array of overbroad, vague, and arbitrary requirements.