Florida Bill Would Allow DeSantis to Ban CRT and Gender Studies From State Schools
A new bill was introduced in Florida this week that would give Gov. Ron Desantis more power over state schools, and allow the Republican politician to ban gender studies and critical race theory, along with diversity and inclusion initiatives, at Florida colleges, CNN reports.
The legislation, which follows through with DeSantis’ promise to ban universities from spending money on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, was filed by Rep. Alex Andrade from Pensacola on Tuesday. If passed, Florida state colleges would be barred from offering major and minor programs in intersectionality, critical race theory, and gender studies.
Core classes would also be prohibited from touching on these teachings or presenting history of the U.S. as “contrary to the creation of a new nation based on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence,” the bill reads.
Currently, the state’s main university, the University of Florida, features a “Chief Diversity Officer,” along with a “Center for Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement.” The bill would put these positions and centers aimed at fostering inclusivity and diversity at risk.
Last month, the Governor said he had major plans for “higher education reform” that would force Florida public colleges to be “grounded in the history and philosophy of Western Civilization.”
“We’re holding our breath,” Sergio Cartagena, a sophomore at the University of Central Florida, told Rolling Stone last month. “We don’t know how this might affect the activism that we might do with our organizations, and in classes, if what we’re trying to learn might be restricted.”
DeSantis is currently in a legal back-and-forth with the College Board, after the governor attempted to bar AP African American Studies in the state, calling it part of “a political agenda.”
The College Board also refuted reports that it caved to DeSantis and his administration’s criticism and made changes to its program. DeSantis has said Florida would not allow the course to be taught in the state unless significant revisions were made. This is in part due to Florida’s “Stop WOKE Act,” legislation that went into effect this past summer banning the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) to the state’s K-12 students.
“There continue to be conversations and misinformation, and we felt the urgency to set the record straight and not wait another day to do so,” a College Board spokesperson said, per the Tampa Bay Times.
DeSantis last year signed into law another bill, nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, barring teachers in Florida schools from discussing gender and sexuality. This is all part of a larger right-wing movement to demonize discussions of race, sexuality, and privilege.