A new bill in Florida would ban public schools and private companies from making people feel “uncomfortable” when teaching them about racial discrimination in US history.
The state Senate Education Committee passed Jan. 18 six and three, and will move to debate among state senators.
According to the bill, an individual should not be “made to feel discomfort, guilt, distress, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race, colour, gender, or national origin.”
The language reflects the many bills that have been introduced in nearly 32 states across the country that attempt to restrict or restrict the teaching and discussion of racial history in the United States.
The Florida bill also states that educators or companies cannot teach that “a race, religion, ethnicity, or gender is inherently superior to another race, religion, ethnicity, or sex; an individual, by virtue of an individual’s race, religion, ethnicity, or gender, is by nature racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
Some teachers have protested and argued against what they say are vague attacks on education and curricula of racial oppression in the United States
“It would bring politics into the classroom, quiet rhetoric, and leave our teachers afraid to teach basic concepts, like the idea that slavery is a bad thing,” Andrew Sparr, president of the Florida Educational Association (FEA), said in a statement to ABC News.
He added, “The sponsor of the legislation seemed to indicate on Tuesday that under his bill, a teacher could cover the three-fifths settlement, which in the 19th century said a black person would count as three-fifths of a white person, but could not express that idea. It is morally wrong to classify persons of a certain color as inferior to others.”
Some lawmakers in favor of these bills, including Florida Governor Rob DeSantis, have invoked critical race theory in their arguments, saying that lessons about the racial history of the United States can be “divisive.”
Critical race theory is an academic concept of systemic racism. According to educators and theorists, the concept seeks to understand how racism has shaped the laws of the United States and how these laws have continued to affect the lives of non-white people. They say these lessons are often taught in higher academic settings rather than in K-12 classrooms.
However, critical race theory in schools has become a target of Republican lawmakers in states across the country despite criticism from educational advocacy organizations such as the FEA and the National Education Association (NEA).
“A great public school education also helps students prepare for their future by encouraging curiosity and critical thinking through art, music, math, science, history and literature,” NEA President Becky Pringle said in a statement. “But now some politicians not only in Florida but elsewhere in the country want to decide what history our children can learn and what books they can read.
This isn’t the first time Florida has targeted critical race theory or race education in schools.
In June 2021, the Florida Board of Education banned the theory from public school classrooms in a move it said would protect children from lessons that could “distort historical events,” citing critical race theory as an example.
DeSantis urged board members to adopt the regulation before senators.
“Nobody wants this bullshit, okay? This is an elite-driven phenomenon that is being pushed by bureaucratic elites, elites in universities, elites in American corporations, and they are trying to shove it around the necks of the American people. You don’t do that,” DeSantis said at an event in Wildwood, Florida, in December 2021.
That same month, DeSantis announced the Stop Mistakes for Our Children and Employees Act, a legislative proposal that his office said would “give businesses, employees, children, and families tools to resist the awakened indoctrination of corporate critical strain theory and monetary race theory.” “
However, some lawmakers and educators say this is an attack on educators’ ability to discuss America’s history with students.
“Students deserve the best education we can offer, and that means giving them a true picture of their world and our common history as Americans. Hiding the facts doesn’t change them,” Spar said in a June statement against this type of legislation. Give children the whole truth and prepare them to make their own decisions and think for themselves.”