DeSantis signs “Intellectual Freedom,” the Stop WOKE Act; critics say it’s racist and unconstitutional

Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday signed into law HB 7, an “intellectual freedom” measure also known as the “Stop WOKE” law. Among critics, it prompted immediate condemnation throughout Florida and other states.

“We believe in education, not indoctrination,” said DeSantis, who was surrounded by schoolchildren at a public charter school in South Florida.

Students, some very young, held signs crossing out “CRT,” raising the question of whether small children even knew what the term meant. (This is called critical race theory.)

Governor Ron DeSantis signs HB Bill 7 on April 22, 2022. Credit: Florida Channel.

In DeSantis’ view, the bill signed into law on Friday offers protections for students and parents to ensure their education meets Florida standards — and that means critical race theory will not be used in schools. Florida public school classrooms.

Experts in critical race theory say it’s about recognizing how deeply rooted racial disparities are in American history and society. But GOP lawmakers have succeeded in pushing it to the top of state legislative agendas.

Culture War Bill HB 7, described as “individual liberty,” restricts certain conversations about race and gender in schools and workplaces. State Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr. was one of the Senate bill’s co-sponsors and voted for it. (He is now a candidate for Florida education commissioner.)

For example, the bill discriminates by subjecting a student or employee to training or education or coercing a student or employee to believe in concepts such as “members of a race, colour, national origin or sex are morally superior to members of another race, colour, national origin or sex”.

Or: “An individual, because of race, color, sex or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist or
oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Or: “An individual, because of race, color, sex, or national origin, bears responsibility for, or should be discriminated against or receive unfavorable treatment because of actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin.

It was one of the governor’s signature bills pushed through the 2022 legislative session.

Critics immediately condemned the new law, which takes effect July 1.

Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried, an independently elected Florida cabinet member, released the following statement:

“This bill is a vile attempt to erase our country’s history, censor businesses and schools, and whitewash history. It is unconstitutional and racist. It’s just more state-sanctioned hate and censorship coming from Governor DeSantis and Republicans in the Legislature.

The Florida Education Association wrote:

“Instead of solving real problems, HB 7 will bring politics into the classroom and fuel division in local school districts. The new law will compromise educators’ ability to teach accurate and honest history from kindergarten through middle school.

HB 7 is likely to impose a financial cost on public PreK-12 schools, schools and universities, FEA wrote, and increase the critical shortage of educators, “with more potential teachers choosing to avoid the profession. , current teachers leaving and higher education faculty opting to reject positions on Florida campuses due to restrictive and punitive legislation.

From Washington, D.C., the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization working for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, “condemned Governor Ron DeSantis for signing the ‘Stop WOKE’ law. (HB 7), legislation restricting protects speech in the workplace and in the classroom by censoring honest dialogue about systemic racism, gender and racial discrimination.The legislation also amends discrimination laws in the Florida Employment to Give Employees the Opportunity to File Discrimination Complaints Against an Employer Who Participates in Trainings or Discussions About Black History, LGBTQ+ Issues, and Other Concepts of Injustice and Discrimination . “

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