Florida Legislature Passes “Stop WOKE Act,” That Limits How Schools Teach About Race And Identity

A bill enacted by Florida lawmakers prohibits school lectures or corporate training that may cause participants to feel uncomfortable or guilty.

It was approved by a vote of 24 – 15 in the Senate.

According to HB 7, also known as the “Individual Freedom” law, forcing anybody to accept any education or training that makes them “feel guilty” because of their “race, color, sex, or national origin” is discriminatory. It’s now on its way to Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk, where he’ll almost certainly sign it into law.

The bill bans any teachings or trainings that “espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels” someone to believe a particular race or sex is morally superior, or an individual can be inherently racist or sexist.

Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Republican, spoke out in favor of the bill, stating that her children should not be made to feel bad for mistakes made by previous generations.

“This bill is not saying we’re not going to study and learn about slavery and racism and the holocaust and what we did when we moved to this country– what we did to the Indians,” Stargel said. 

“But, that we of white privilege are supposed to feel guilt and shame? I don’t subscribe to that. I think we need to learn. We need to change. We need to work together. But I don’t think that we should be teaching a certain race that we are better or worse than another.”

Several Democrats used the occasion to speak out against the bill.

“This bill reflects the gross misunderstanding of critical race theory. Not only are those principles self-evident statements, which no person disagrees, they do not accurately portray CRT,” Sen. Janet Cruz said. “CRT stands for the belief that the instruction of the history of our country would be incomplete without understanding the real oppression of individuals because of the color of their skin.”

Following the controversy over critical race theory, proponents, like DeSantis, argue the law is about ending “woke” indoctrination and increasing anti-discrimination rights.

In December, DeSantis presented the Stop W.O.K.E. Act, which would address critical racial theory.

The Florida Education Association teachers union blasted the bill and recently passed HB 1557, also known as the “Parental Rights in Education” or “Don’t Say Gay” bill, as “censorship” legislation that will “limit what schools can say and teach about our nation’s history and issues related to students who are part of or associated with the LGBTQ+ community,” according to critics.

“Educators love their students. We all want to make sure that every child can grow and thrive, regardless of race, background, ZIP code or ability,” Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar said in a statement. “These bills mean some of our students will no longer feel safe and secure, or even seen, based on who they are. 

“Both bills promote discrimination and censorship, and send the clearly un-American message to students that individuality is not valued, that everyone must conform to a single point of view.”

Currently, no grade level in Florida schools teaches the idea. 

“a group of concepts used for examining the relationship between race and the laws and legal institutions of a country and especially the United States.” according to Meriam-Webster.

Currently, this has not been taught in any grade level in Florida schools.

According to the bill’s analysis, it would prohibit the topic from being taught in order to avoid what it called “historical events being distorted in ways that are inconsistent with State Board of Education rules.”

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