Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 7 into law on Friday, an “Intellectual Freedom” measure also referred to as the “Stop WOKE” act. Among critics, it caused immediate condemnation across Florida and states elsewhere.
“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 questions about whether little kids even knew what the term meant. (It’s called Critical Race Theory.)
In DeSantis’ view, the protects both students and parents and ensures education is consistent with Florida standards — and that means critical race theory will not be used in classrooms in Florida’s public schools.
Experts in critical race theory say it’s about acknowledging how racial disparities are embedded in U.S history and society. But GOP lawmakers have succeeded in pushing it to the top of state legislative agendas.
The culture-war bill HB 7, described as “Individual Freedom,” restricts conversations about race and gender in schools and workplaces. State Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. was a Senate co-sponsor of the bill and voted for it. (He’s now up for the Florida Education Commissioner job.)
For example, the bill considers it discrimination to subject any student or employee to training or instruction or to compel a student or employee to believe concepts such as that “members of one race, color, national origin, or sex are morally superior to members of another race, color, national origin, or sex.”
Or: “An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color sex, or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
Or: “An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, bears responsibility for, or should be discriminated against or receive adverse 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 Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried, an independently-elected member of the Florida Cabinet, released the following statement:
“This bill is a vile attempt to erase our country’s history, censor businesses and schools, and whitewash history. It’s unconstitutional and racist. This is just more state-sanctioned hatred and censorship coming from Gov. 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 stoke division in local school districts. The new law will compromise educators’ ability to teach accurate, honest history from kindergarten through college.”
HB 7 is likely to impose a financial cost on PreK-12 public schools, schools, and universities, the FEA wrote, and increase the critical educator shortage, “with more potential teachers choosing to avoid the profession, current teachers leaving, and higher education faculty opting to reject positions on Florida campuses because of restrictive, punitive legislation.”
In Washington, D.C., the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization for LGBTQ people, “condemned Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing the “Stop WOKE” act (HB 7), legislation limiting protected speech in workplaces and classrooms by censoring honest dialogue about systemic racism, gender, and race discrimination.”
“The legislation also changes Florida’s employment discrimination statutes to give employees the ability to file discrimination claims against an employer engaging in trainings or discussions about Black history, LGBTQ+ issues, and other concepts of injustice and discrimination,” the organization said.
–Diane Rado, Florida Phoenix
A more accurate nickname for Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill would be the “don’t teach really young school kids about adult stuff like transgenderism” bill.
An accurate label isn’t as catchy.
Once again, they’re trying to manipulate you. Don’t fall for it.
Pierre Tristam says
No one is “teaching kids about transgenderism,” certainly nowhere near to the extent that almost everyone down to the kids’ Sunday school teachers are cramming heterosexual gender identity down their throats. Schools have been places where students have felt safe to talk of certain things–history, sports, science, gender–and seeing some of their teachers as trusted individuals in whom they could confide. Not that there’s anything too sensitive to confide about, say, sports, but one’s identity is a different issue. This bill turns teachers against students. It turns schools against children, parents against schools, and pits state ideology against any discussion of LGBTQ issues. That’s its aim. That, plus fueling the DeSantis-for-president bandwagon. For anyone to claim it prevents the “teaching” of “transgenderism” (using that word as if it were itself an ideology, rather than an innate identity: nicely cynical touch, but we know your game) only furthers the propagandistic framing of the bill as precisely what it is not, in order to defend the indefensible. You claim the opponents are mischaracterizing it even as you play the most intellectually dishonest word games. Unknown, and unknowing.
Your opening remark states “no one is teaching kids about transgenderism” is contradicted before the sentence is even completed… talk about intellectually dishonest word games!!!
Pierre Tristam says
Teaching is not the same as talking to a child who needs to confide in a teacher, or who raises a question. The “teaching” trope is part of the manipulation of language to demonize teachers, as if they’re lining their students in the morning, “come on kids, let’s now open our books to how to become transgender,” etc. That’s even assuming that students bring up the matter (let alone in open class) more than once every 257,000 classes. Like the transgender athlete craze or the transgender bathroom craze, this is all a fabrication to get milage out of the next election. It’s working. But don’t pretend as if it has anything to do with what goes in in classrooms. Yes: talk about intellectually dishonest word games.
Right On Pierre!
Thank you Pierre!
Sunday schools are religiously based you can’t compare the two.
Bill Green says
With this suppressive bill, DeSantis along with his lemming legislators continue his vile, vicious and anti-Constitutional legislation against our civil rights – and in this case – against the First Amendment right to free speech. Veiled as another bill to” protect” our freedoms, it does just the opposite by prohibiting our rights to freely express ourselves to discuss race and gender at schools and the workplace. This dictatorial governor is a scourge to our sacred Constitution and to those loyal Floridians who still believe in its tenets.
What gives anyone the right to make another co-worker be uncomfortable as constantly harassed while they earn a living for them & their family ? The true victims now have recourse to feel safe at their jobs, only because we all know there are cliques of co-workers that try to run the place with their cancel culture nonsense. Those folks need to be the first to be fired for the bait tactics to fabricate a reason to cancel others not in their fold.
Christopher Goodfellow says
There is nothing worse than unnecessary laws or laws made by imbeciles who do not have the intelligence to see the consequences. Your new Florida freedumb law would have Mister Rogers and Officer Clemons obviously carted off to jail forthwith. OK Governor I hope your little ones aren’t watching Sesame Street with Roosevelt Franklin and the new Wes and Elijah because that would seem to be illegal.
After getting rid of Disney do you intend launching The Pure Aryan show for kids with white hooded goose stepping characters chanting don’t say gay? Yeah that will sell big.
Good God man you are so off the wall with all this unnecessary divisive crap you really need to lighten up.
The unintended consequence is that you might have several million Florida kids pooping on you for beating up on Ernie and his friends.
@Thanks Goober desantis
Goober says where his/her floriduh is headed:
Best news I’ve read today ! You don’t know how many times I’ve had to endure the co-worker(s) that corner you on discussing race & gender issues on company hours. We’re all the same salary & wage slaves at the end of the day. Funny, in the interview for the job they don’t tell you who these people are. Doesn’t take them long to waste your time while making the 5 days you have to be there before a weekend of relief from them.
I wouldn’t want my young kids learning about “gender identity” in school. Enough of that is being forced on kids as it is with society the way it now. I respect everyone’s view point on the matter, but lets end it there. Your view point. An elementary kid doesnt need to be told in school its ok for a boy to call himself a girl or vice-versa. Dont get me started on the “other”, neither boy or girl. Theres enough confusion at these young ages.
I’m with you. God help our children.
Donald J Trump says
I want to know why the. Bible is not banned. There gas never been a book more deserving because it is filled with murder, incest, corruption and many examples of breaking all of the 10 Comandments. I think Ron and Donald have chapped lips from sucking each others buttholes.
Deborah Coffey says
DeSantis has gone all out totalitarian. What’s next? He’ll be in our bedrooms giving orders? Tell us what we can and cannot say to the bank teller? To the cashier at Publix? What foods will he ban from the shelves? Mostly, will he arrest me because I despise him and put it in writing? Probably.
Claire Levesque says
I am appalled by attudes of remakes on this site, little children only need to know things that are important to their learning of basics, I would not have wanted my children to learn about sex, gender changes, gays or lesbians at the age of 5-8 years old. Things about sex should be spoken of at home by parents at the proper time children are curios enough to ask questions about thing that they want answers to. When children get older then health education is proper with in reason. Reproductive systems and how they work should be taught not disciptive pictures or the like. And there is no question only and man and a women can reproduce.
Now are there people who are different from heterosexual, yes and they should not be persecuted for it but teaching children about different lifestyles is not part of sex education. God made 2 genders Man and Women. So if you are a man but feel like a women or women who feels like a man that is fine my 5 year old does not need to know it. Young child are not judgmental, that is taught. I talked with my children answered questions as honestly as I could.
Our govenor is looking to protect young children from things they do not need to deal with at such a young age. Also business should be neutral and not be voicing opinions as a business if this is your personal opinion that is fine and you have a right to express it as a individual but not as a business that is to serve everyone. This is over stepping and trying to cancel parents rights.
You’re not allowed to talk about religion in the workplace, it also falls under the Sexual Harassment Law. So what’s the difference. Some things should only be discussed privately outside of work and school.
The dude says
The freedumb down here… it’s amazing.
This place is like opposite world, where up is down and black is white.
Deathsatin doesn’t care who he steps on for his craving power to be President, running and being Governor is his steppingstone.
He is out for himself and has told the world how prejudice he is.
He is one of those phony Christians that think their beliefs rule and shows the world how discriminating they are.
What he did to Disney because they were supporting all their employee’s he decides to play childish game and tax away their tax arrangement in law for many, many years and worked very well for Orlando. Now that has changed it the citizens are going to pay the price for a Governor that is vindictive.
Wasting time money energy resources on Topics that don’t need fixing. Solutions looking for a problem. Vote Accordingly
Governor DeSantis is very definitely using the Trump playbook, who used the Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini playbook as it draws out the disenfranchised middle class, to the benefit of the wealthy. Look at it this way: the American white male has enjoyed double standards throughout his lifetime (not so for white women, but we won’t go there now). Who wants to give that up, and be treated the way the top echelon treated those not belonging to the club? Remember the white male protesters with their tiki torches chanting “The Jews will not replace us” ? Trump, and now DeSantis, can promote double standards, and be praised for it. It’s very effective, and they know it.
Quite frankly, the Republicans back the wealthy while Democrats back the poor, and the middle class pays for it all. The middle class have always be the hardest to control. The Trumpians, Russians and Qrazies, have found a way, an old way. Fear. For them, controlling the middle class if far more important than improving infrastructure. The Republicans have no other agenda. Have you heard any? Nope. It’s all supposedly about saving us from ourselves.
So now, we cannot be too surprised that our local Mussolini is hot and heavy at work, not governing, but dumbing down America further as a way of controlling the masses. I shake my head when I see some working guy in an old, beat up truck with a Trump sticker on the tailgate, as if Trump gave a damn about him. Are you paying attention Republicans? Next, the Trumpians will get rid of the intelligentsia (part of the playbook, remember Cuba?), through schools, and place themselves as big brother encouraging us to turn on each other (like Texas) when we oppose the new government.
Never thought I’d see the day in the United States of America.
Thank you Laurel. . . another excellent comment! I couldn’t agree with you more!
DMF in Florida says
@ Laurel. I give you a standing ovation. I could have written that myself, nearly verbatim. For those of us who actually read, think, analyze, observe, and understand human behavior and dynamics, the current atmosphere in Florida becomes more terrifying by the day.
Family obligations prevent me from leaving. Sad, because this would be such a prime time to sell at a very hefty profit and go somewhere else where people are living in reality.
I am patriotic through and through, raised my whole life in an extended military family, never failing to vote since I was 18, and raised by a hard-working solid middle class family. The last six or seven years have broken my faith in our political system in what seems like a race to force us back 70 years.