Florida Rep. Anderson Proposes Bill to Curtail Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives in Schools

A new bill proposed by Rep. Adam Anderson, a Republican from the Florida House of Representatives, would give Governor Ron Desantis more control over the state’s higher education system and shape school curriculum to better reflect what the state considers a more historically accurate view of the United States.[0] The bill, House Bill 999, filed Tuesday by Rep. Alex Andrade (R-Pensacola), would give the Board of Governors the ability to direct public universities to remove majors and minors in critical race theory, gender studies, intersectionality or “any derivative major or minor of these belief systems.”[1]

The bill echoes the Governor’s previous proposals, which include a ban on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at public universities as well as an expansion of classical education that focuses on Western Civilization.[2] The bill also states that general education courses cannot define “American history as contrary to the creation of a new nation based on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence” and any that imply a different narrative lens like “identity politics, such as “Critical Race Theory” is not allowed.[0] Additionally, general education courses must “promote the values necessary to preserve the constitutional republic” through “traditional, historically accurate” coursework; and would ban courses in general education curricula  “based on unproven, theoretical, or exploratory content,” as defined by political appointees.[3]

The legislation has been met with criticism from LGBTQ-advocacy organizations, such as Equality Florida, who have said that the 2022 law was part of a “censorship agenda” driven by Gov. Ron DeSantis.[4] “The DeSantis regime isn’t satisfied with a hostile takeover of traditional public schools. They envision a future where LGBTQ families have no school choice to find dignity or respect,” said Jon Harris Maurer, Equality Florida’s public policy director in a statement.[5]

The bill also includes a provision that bars school employees from providing pronouns to students that don’t align with their sex at birth. No one should be compelled to address another person using pronouns that do not correspond to their sex assigned at birth as a condition of employment or enrollment in a program. Pronouns should not be requested of students.

Rep. Anderson has defended the bill, claiming that it “promotes parental rights, transparency and state standards in Florida schools.[6]

0. “DeSantis’ quest to conquer higher ed just got scarier” University Business, 24 Feb. 2023, https://universitybusiness.com/desantis-quest-to-conquer-higher-ed-just-got-scarier/

1. “Florida Republicans go after DEI degrees” Axios, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.axios.com/local/tampa-bay/2023/02/24/gop-goes-after-dei-degrees

2. “Florida bill would ban mandatory DEI statements for hiring, tenure in higher ed” The College Fix, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.thecollegefix.com/florida-bill-would-ban-mandatory-dei-statements-for-hiring-tenure-in-higher-ed

3. “Proposed New Florida Law Would Place the “Most Draconian and Censorious” Restrictions on Higher Education in the …” PEN America, 24 Feb. 2023, https://pen.org/press-release/proposed-new-florida-law-would-place-the-most-draconian-and-censorious-restrictions-on-higher-education-in-the-country-says-pen-america/

4. “Proposed Florida bill aims to restrict pronouns in schools” News 13 Orlando, 28 Feb. 2023, https://www.mynews13.com/fl/orlando/news/2023/02/28/proposed-florida-bill-aims-to-restrict-use-of-pronouns-in-schools

5. “Florida Lawmaker Files Bill to Expand ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Through 8th Grade” FlaglerLive.com, 1 Mar. 2023, https://flaglerlive.com/186907/florida-lawmaker-files-8th-grade

6. “New Florida bill would restrict use of gender pronouns in schools” WESH 2 Orlando, 1 Mar. 2023, https://www.wesh.com/article/florida-bill-pronouns-schools/43123080

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