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Six faculty members sued California’s community college system leaders and others Thursday to overturn new diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) rules.

“The DEIA rules require faculty members to teach in a manner reflecting ‘DEIA and antiracist principles’ and ‘promote[] a race-conscious and intersectional lens,’” says the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for California’s Eastern District. “Professors must also employ a ‘social justice lens’ and a ‘collectivism perspective,’ rather than an ‘individualist perspective.’ The government warns professors not to ‘weaponize academic freedom and academic integrity as tools to impede equity’ or ‘inflict curricular trauma on our students.’”

The suit says “California’s community college districts must now evaluate faculty performance based on faculty members’ compliance with these DEIA rules. If professors want to keep their jobs, each of California’s community colleges require that faculty incorporate the requirements into lesson plans and lectures.”

The system includes 116 colleges and 1.8 million students.

The instructors, represented by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, also allege that a union contract with their Fresno-based State Center Community College District imposes the rules, alongside the system’s own policies.

“Plaintiffs are opposed to the DEIA rules and faculty contract because they require them to endorse DEIA concepts such as ‘anti-racism’ and ‘intersectionality’ that they strongly oppose, the suit says. “Each instead supports race-neutral policies and perspectives that treat all students equally.”

In an email, a spokeswoman for the system chancellor’s office wrote that it had no comment “on this pending litigation at this time.”

“We are being represented by the California Attorney General’s Office,” she wrote. “Our response opposing the plaintiffs’ request will be in court filings expected to be filed in the next day or so.”