Lambda Legal Hails Biden Administration Rescission of Ban on Speech about Systemic Racism, Sexism, and Implicit Bias

January 28, 2021

“The Biden Administration has reaffirmed its commitment to undertake an honest and long overdue reckoning with sexism and structural racism in our society.” 

(Chicago, January 21, 2021) – President Biden yesterday rescinded the Trump administration executive order that sought to prohibit federal contractors and grantees from conducting workplace diversity trainings or engaging in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. In late December, Lambda Legal secured a preliminary injunction to block implementation of key aspects of the executive order in federal district court. 

“President Biden’s decision rescinding this harmful executive order is a step in the right direction to undo the harms caused over the past four years. In addition, this move relieves any doubt about whether there will be an appeal of the federal injunction,” said Aisha N. Davis, Esq., Director of Policy, AIDS Foundation Chicago. “We are hopeful as we continue to monitor the changes that President Biden makes in his administration's first 100 days – this administration has the potential to make lasting, positive change for people living with HIV.” 

The Executive Order, issued September 22, 2020, and later Trump administration guidance labeled 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 forbade agencies from “promot[ing]” these “divisive concepts.” The order described such trainings as un-American, directed 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. 

“The Trump administration’s effort to quash any discussion of the continued pernicious impact of structural racism, implicit bias, and sexism in U.S. society was both gratuitous and harmful,” said Scott Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director, Lambda Legal. “This past summer’s protests after the murder of George Floyd and the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color have made that very clear. Joe Biden campaigned on a promise to confront these issues. Today, the Biden Administration has reaffirmed its commitment to undertake an honest and long overdue reckoning with sexism and structural racism in our society.” 

On November 2, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit challenging the ban in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of a consulting company, an individual plaintiff, and six organizational plaintiffs. The organizational plaintiffs include LGBT Centers, an advocacy and service organization for LGBT seniors, and HIV/AIDS health and advocacy organizations from across the country.  

The consultancy plaintiff is B. Brown Consulting, a Michigan-based business with a federal contract to train correctional facility staff, governmental agencies, and nonprofits. The individual plaintiff is Dr. Ward Carpenter, co-director of Health Services at LA LGBT Center. The organizational plaintiffs include: the Los Angeles LGBT Center; The Diversity Center in Santa Cruz, CA; AIDS Foundation of Chicago; CrescentCare in New Orleans, LA; Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, PA; and, SAGE, based in New York City.  

The lawsuit is The Diversity Center v. Trump. Read more about the case here:

More about the clients is available here:

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. 


Contact: Tom Warnke; (c): 213-841-4503; Email:

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and policy work.

Categorized under AFC news and National.

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