Diverse learning environments help students in elementary, secondary, and higher education sharpen their critical thinking and analytical skills, prepare all students to succeed in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world, break down stereotypes and reduce bias, and enable schools to fulfill their role in opening doors for students of all backgrounds. The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized the critical benefits of student diversity, affirmed in research and practice, and has consistently held that it is a compelling state interest.
OCR has issued guidance on various occasions to explain how school districts, colleges, and universities can pursue racial diversity consistent with Title VI and Supreme Court decisions in this area. School districts have flexibility, for example, to avoid racial isolation through decisions about siting schools and academic programs, drawing school attendance zones, aligning grades between schools, and setting enrollment and transfer policies. Likewise, colleges and universities can pursue a racially diverse student body through their admissions, recruitment, outreach, mentoring, support, and financial aid programs, among others. If an educational institution considers an individual student’s race in providing access to its programs or activities, however, it must be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling interest, consistent with criteria set by the U.S. Supreme Court and applied by OCR when it assesses compliance with Title VI,