Florida’s House Bill 7 passed both chambers of the state legislature on Wednesday. HB 7 originates from Governor DeSantis Stop W.O.K.E. Agenda announced in December 2021.
Passing the house 74-41 in February and 24-15 in the Senate, the bill has been ordered to be enrolled.
The Stop W.O.K.E. Agenda seeks to take “a stand against the state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory,” in the words of DeSantis. “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.”
The bill did not pass without its share of proposed amendments. Twenty total amendments failed to pass while advancing through the House. Among the failed amendments were attempts to include the celebration of LGBTQ+ and the change of religious tolerance to religious diversity under the civic and character education subsection. Attempts to add sexual and gender identity to the list of protected groups were also thwarted.
The bill dubbed HB 7: Individual Freedom has the main goal of ridding Florida schools and workplaces of critical race theory as outlined by the Governor’s agenda. Critics argue that it might silence some parts of history or suppress minority communities.
This, however, is not the case, nor the point of the bill. The bill specifically mentions that African American history, Hispanic and women’s contributions to the United States will be required to be taught.
One of the main stipulations is that students of a certain race may not be implicated because of the actions of previous members of the same race. Additionally, individuals may not be instructed that they should feel guilt, stress, or physiological distress for actions that they did not take part in.
The bill outlines 8 major points where employers or schools may not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, or sex.
- Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin are morally superior to members of another
- An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously
- An individual’s moral character or status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, sex, or national origin
- People cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race, color, sex, or national origin
- An individual 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
- An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment to achieve diversity, equity, or inclusion
- An individual bears personal responsibility for and must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress because of actions, in which the individual played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin
- Such virtues as merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist or sexist, or were created by members of a particular race, color, sex, or national origin to oppress members of another
The bill seeks to prevent students from being indoctrinated while at school based on innate identities. As the bill puts it, “classroom instruction and curriculum may not be used to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view with the principles enumerated in subsection (3) or the state academic standards.”
Bryan Avila, the sponsor of the bill cleverly builds off of the Florida Civil Rights act. Rather than attacking critical race theory directly, the bill instead prevents the institutions from implementing discriminatory curriculum or training.
DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law, cementing his Stop W.O.K.E Agenda in Florida. Florida continues its legislative momentum as the November midterms are quickly approaching.