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TESOL Statement on Executive Order Banning Sensitivity Training Programs in the United States

by David Cutler | 10/01/2020
As a global organization, TESOL International Association is dedicated to advancing the field of English language teaching by promoting and upholding its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. In order to achieve its mission and preserve its values, TESOL strives to ensure that its members feel welcomed, valued, seen, and heard. With these ideals in mind, TESOL is deeply disappointed in and opposed to President Trump’s recent Executive Order banning various diversity and sensitivity training programs from being implemented by federal contractors, and grant recipients.

As racial, social, and economic divisions continue to grow across the United States, it has become clear that there is an historic need for sensitivity training programs that aim to promote a path towards national unity, rather than continue on a road filled with discord, hate, and discrimination. Such unity, however, can only be achieved when sensitivity programs acknowledge offensive stereotypes and teach participants about conscious and unconscious biases regarding race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, and language proficiency.

These diversity education programs, which the Executive Order deems as 'un-American,' are quite the opposite, and are created and implemented with the goal of healing a deeply divided nation, with a history of systematic racism, sexism, and discrimination. TESOL is extremely disturbed that the president believes these programs are a detriment, rather than a benefit, to countless American workplaces where employees may unknowingly hold biased beliefs that can negatively affect or offend their peers. TESOL International Association is committed to building on its efforts that promote diversity, equity and inclusion within the TESOL profession.

TESOL calls on its many allies in the field, and members of the TESOL Affiliate Network to pledge their commitment to diversity and sensitivity training, and empower their employees and members with the necessary knowledge to recognize and overcome biased behaviors that continue to impact our ever-divided society.