Los Angeles LGBT Center Successfully Blocks Trump Administration’s Executive Order to Ban Speech About Systemic Racism, Sexism, and Implicit Bias

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A U.S. District Court judge ruled Tuesday in favor of a group of plaintiffs, among them the Los Angeles LGBT Center, to issue a nationwide preliminary injunction barring the Trump administration from implementing its Executive Order that would have prohibited federal contractors and grantees from conducting workplace diversity trainings or engaging in grant‐funded work that explicitly acknowledges and confronts the existence of structural racism and sexism in our society.

Judge Beth Labson Freeman issued her ruling on The Diversity Center v. Trump after hearing oral argument November 10, 2020, on the motion for a preliminary injunction sought by the Center and co-plaintiffs in their lawsuit filed earlier in November challenging the ban.

From her ruling:

            “The Court agrees with Plaintiffs that the Government’s argument is a gross mischaracterization
            of the speech Plaintiffs want to express and an insult to their work of addressing discrimination
            and injustice towards historically underserved communities. That this Government dislikes this
            speech is irrelevant to the analysis but permeates their briefing.”

“President Trump’s executive order struck at the very heart of our country’s core principles, limiting freedom of speech and curtailing efforts to explore root causes of inequality,” said Los Angeles LGBT Center Health Services Co-Director Dr. Ward Carpenter, the lawsuit’s individual plaintiff. “As a provider of critical services to underserved communities, the Center has a responsibility to help reduce barriers to care wherever possible. Black, Latinx, transgender, HIV-positive, and other LGBTQ people have been ignored and even mistreated by the healthcare system for generations. If the Center is to achieve our goal of creating a world where all LGBTQ people are free, equal, and complete members of society, we must start by acknowledging the many ways in which the system has failed our community, then work to change it. We applaud the court’s decision to halt this mean-spirited and destructive Executive Order, and we look forward to a new Administration that will actually support efforts to address systemic discrimination and promote equality.”

The Executive Order (issued on September 22, 2020) and later Trump administration guidance labels the discussion of intersectionality, critical race theory, white privilege, systemic racism, or implicit or unconscious bias in diversity training as “race and sex scapegoating” and forbids agencies from “promot[ing]” these “divisive concepts.” The order describes such trainings as un‐American, directs agency heads to audit internal training curricula and discontinue these trainings, to conduct a similar audit of federal contractors, and to suspend or deny funding to contractors and grantees whose trainings or grant‐funded activities cover these topics.

“This injunction was critically important for our clients—organizations and individuals on the front line combatting COVID‐19, HIV/AIDS, and the violence perpetrated against Black and Brown people by law enforcement,” said Avatara Smith‐Carrington, Tyron Garner Memorial Law Fellow at Lambda Legal. “Judge Freeman saw this ban for what it is: An effort to quash the truth and sweep under the rug an honest and long overdue reckoning with structural racism and sexism in our society.

“To effectively address racial disparities in our health care and legal systems, our clients have to train people on systemic racism, sexism, and anti‐LGBT bias,” Smith‐Carrington added. “This is a victory for truth, science, and for the principle of services focusing on the needs of the people being impacted instead of serving the agenda of the Trump administration.”

On November 2, Lambda Legal filed the federal lawsuit The Diversity Center v. Trump in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of the Center and five other organizational plaintiffs (including an advocacy and service organization for LGBT seniors as well as HIV/AIDS health and advocacy organizations nationwide), a consulting company, and an individual plaintiff. The organizational plaintiffs are the Los Angeles LGBT Center; AIDS Foundation of Chicago; Bradbury‐Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, PA; CrescentCare in New Orleans; The Diversity Center in Santa Cruz, CA; and SAGE, based in New York City. The consultancy is B. Brown Consulting, a Michigan‐based business with a federal contract to train correctional facility staff, governmental agencies, and nonprofits. As previously mentioned, the individual plaintiff is the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Health Services Co-Director Dr. Ward Carpenter.

Lambda Legal filed its brief seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the Trump administration from implementing the order and cutting funding for federal contractors on November 15, 2020. Lambda Legal’s team working on the case includes: Camilla Taylor; Karen Loewy; Scott Schoettes; Currey Cook; Omar Gonzalez‐Pagan; Avatara A. Smith‐Carrington; Alexis Paige; and, Cheryl Angelaccio. They are joined by pro‐bono co‐counsel from Ropes & Gray, including: Douglas Hallward‐Driemeier; Kirsten Mayer; Nathalia Sosa; Jessica Soto; Thanithia Billing; Annie Monjar; Jennifer Cullinane; Ethan Weinberg; Fred Boehrer; and, William Richard Allen.

To read Judge Beth Labson Freeman’s ruling on The Diversity Center v. Trump , visit bit.ly/thediversitycenterruling

To read the full complaint The Diversity Center v. Trump, visit bit.ly/thediversitycenter

For more information about the plaintiffs, visit bit.ly/thediversitycenterplaintiffs

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