March 18, 2023

MISEDUCATION: Florida bill bars women’s studies, inclusive programs & more

MISEDUCATION: Florida bill bars women's studies, inclusive programs, & more

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Under Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida is moving to even further damage the education system.

A new bill attacks all university courses that fall under headings like critical race theory, gender studies, women’s studies, and intersectionality, and forbids universities to make statements on inclusion or diversity.

The bill specifically forbids universities to allow students to major or minor in any program focused on “Critical Race Theory, Gender Studies, or Intersectionality, or any derivative major or minor of these belief systems.”

This follows DeSantis’ recent moves to water down or eliminate similar or related content at the K-12 level, attacking an AP African American Studies course and barring teachers from acknowledging or addressing topics surrounding gender and sexuality.

It also attacks inclusivity, not only forbidding the universities themselves “from using diversity, equity, and inclusion statements” but from “promot[ing], support[ing], or maintain[ing]” any programs or campus activities that “espouse diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

This, too, follows directly with Governor DeSantis’ attacks on inclusivity, in which the legislation that has been termed the ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill’ is just one step in what seems like an effort to bar LGBTQ people from public life, or force them into invisibility.

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The new bill hints that addressing these important issues falls under “unproven, theoretical, or exploratory content” and should be left to electives, not centered in degree programs.

Moreover, the bill seems to force universities to push the notion of western supremacy. It reads:

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“Whenever applicable, promote the philosophical underpinnings of Western civilization and include studies of this nation’s historical documents, including the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments thereto, and the Federalist Papers.”

The full bill can be read here, and you can see analysis tweeted by a professor at Michigan Law School at the bottom of this page.

Can the legislation be passed and implemented as written?

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It certainly has commonalities with previous efforts by the DeSantis Administration to control the content of university courses.

His “Stop WOKE” bill would have also limited the ability of university courses to explore certain topics relating to race and gender, and, as NPR reported last year, a judge slapped that down:

“The State of Florida’s decision to choose which viewpoints are worthy of illumination and which must remain in the shadows has implications for us all,” [U.S. District Judge Mark] Walker wrote. “But the First Amendment does not permit the State of Florida to muzzle its university professors, impose its own orthodoxy of viewpoints, and cast us all into the dark.”


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