Story at a glance
- The Florida House of Representatives passed the “Stop WOKE Act” on Thursday.
- The bill would ban the teaching of critical race theory in public schools as well as lessons about gender identity.
- Employers would also be subject to discrimination claims if they require trainings or discussions about Black history, LGBTQ+ issues and other concepts of injustice and discrimination.
Florida legislators made their opposition to teaching gender identity and race in public schools official, as the state’s House of Representatives passed the “Stop WOKE Act” on Thursday.
Senate Bill 148 still needs to be signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, but if it becomes law it would limit protected speech in workplaces with more than 15 employees and classrooms, banning lessons about gender identity and race that could make students feel “discomfort.”
Dubbed the “Stop WOKE Act,” which stands for wrongs to our kids and employees, it bans the teaching of critical race theory, which addresses systemic racism in the U.S., alleging it widens racial divisions—the concept becoming a national flash point.
DeSantis described the legislation as a tool for businesses, employees and children and families to fight back against “woke indoctrination.”
“We won’t allow Florida tax dollars to be spent teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other. We also have a responsibility to ensure that parents have the means to vindicate their rights when it comes to enforcing state standards. Finally, we must protect Florida workers against the hostile work environment that is created when large corporations force their employees to endure CRT-inspired ‘training’ and indoctrination,” said DeSantis.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said the passage of the “Stop WOKE Act” stands to change Florida’s employment discrimination statutes, giving employees the ability to file discrimination claims against an employer engaging in trainings or discussion about Black history, LGBTQ+ issues and other concepts of injustice and discrimination.
“This bill is a thinly veiled political attempt to attack marginalized communities. It doesn’t address the critical needs of Floridians, but instead, fuels the discriminatory agenda of extremist legislators,” said Cathryn M. Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel at HRC, in a statement.
The “Stop WOKE Act” accompanies Florida’s Individual Freedom bill, which would remove the world “gender” from statutory language and replace it with the word “sex.” That bill would mandate students be separated by sex and not gender for sports and sex education
Florida legislators are also working to pass the Parental Rights in Education bill, known as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.” That bill would bar Florida educators from talking about LGBTQ+ topics that are not considered “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”
“Let’s be clear—the negative consequences of the ‘Stop Woke Act’ will ripple across Florida. It will hurt the LGBTQ+ community, people of color and women. Every historically marginalized population will be impacted by this legislation,” said Oakley.
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