Divisive Concepts

Tennessee public institutions of higher education may not take certain actions regarding divisive concepts or the ideologies or political viewpoints of students and employees. Southwest Tennessee Community College’s governing body, the Tennessee Board of Regents, requires that the College provide the following information.

If you believe that there has been a violation of the regulations, you may file a complaint with the Tennessee Board of Regents system office.  

The following concepts are considered “divisive:”

  • One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
  • An individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously;
  • An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the individual's race or sex;
  • An individual's moral character is determined by the individual's race or sex;
  • An individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
  • An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual's race or sex;
  • A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist, or designed by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex;
  • This state or the United States is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist;
  • Promoting or advocating the violent overthrow of the United States government;
  • Promoting division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people;
  • Ascribing character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual's race or sex;
  • The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups;
  • All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;
  • Governments should deny to any person within the government's jurisdiction the equal protection of the law;
  • Race or sex stereotyping, which is defined as ascribing traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of race or sex; and
  • Race or sex scapegoating, which is defined as assigning fault, blame, or bias to a race or sex, or to members of a race or sex, because of their race or sex, and includes any claim that consciously or subconsciously, and by virtue of a person’s race or sex, members of a race are inherently racist or inclined to oppress others, or that members of a sex are inherently sexist or inclined to oppress others.

Neither Southwest nor Southwest employees shall:

  • penalize, discriminate against, or treat adversely either a student or employee because the individual refused to support, believe, endorse, embrace, confess, act upon, or otherwise assent to one or more divisive concepts;
  • require a student or employee to endorse a specific ideology or political viewpoint to be eligible for hiring, tenure, promotion, or graduation;
  • require an applicant for employment or admission to submit a personal diversity statement or to affirm the applicant’s agreement with a diversity statement as part of the application or admissions process;
  • ask the ideological or political viewpoint of a student, job applicant, job candidate, or candidate for promotion or tenure; 
  • use state funding to incentivize faculty to incorporate one or more divisive concepts into academic curricula; or
  • approve or use state funds for fees, dues, subscriptions, or travel in conjunction with the membership, meetings, or activities of an organization if participation in such organization requires an individual, or an individual’s employer, to endorse or promote a divisive concept.

Nothing herein shall be interpreted to:

  1. Infringe on freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment 
  2. Infringe on faculty’s rights of academic freedom 
  3. Require an employee to: 
    1. Violate any federal or state law, rule, or regulation; or 
    2. Fail to comply with any applicable academic accreditation requirement;
  4. Prohibit Southwest from training students or employees on the nondiscrimination requirements of federal or state law.

Southwest may not:

  1. Conduct any mandatory training of students or employees if the training includes one or more divisive concepts;
  2. Use training programs or training materials for students or employees if the program or material includes one or more divisive concepts; or
  3. Use state-appropriated funds to incentivize, beyond payment of regular salary or other regular compensation, a faculty member to incorporate one or more divisive concepts into academic curricula.


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