The Florida State Board of Education has banned schools in the state’s college system from using public funds for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs.
The committee, made up of members appointed by the state’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, announced the new rule on Wednesday.
DeSantis & his “fragile ego” can’t scare him.Carlos Guillermo Smith (once competed on Fear Factor).
“The rule adopted by the Board defined, for the first time, DEI and affirmatively prohibits [Florida College System] institutions from using state or federal funds to administer programs that categorize individuals based on race or sex for the purpose of differential or preferential treatment,” the board said in a statement, adding that its decision would “ensure that taxpayer funds can no longer be used to promote DEI on Florida’s 28 state college campuses.”
The move comes after DeSantis signed a bill last May banning state colleges and universities from spending state or federal funding on DEI programs. The bill allows state officials to review colleges’ core curriculum classes for any “theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities.” If officials find such content, the curriculum can be removed, “realigned,” or expanded to counter such viewpoints.
“DEI is better viewed as standing for ‘discrimination, exclusion, and indoctrination,’ and that has no place in our public institutions,” the anti-LGBTQ+ presidential hopeful said at the time. “[DEI] has basically been used as a veneer to impose an ideological agenda and that is wrong… If you want to do things like gender ideology, go to Berkeley, go to some of these other places… You don’t just get to take taxpayer dollars and do whatever the heck you want to do and think that’s somehow OK.”
Critics of the state’s efforts to ban DEI programs say that they will hamper efforts to recruit students and educators and will shut down courses examining gender inequality, LGBTQ+ discrimination, and racial injustice.
On Wednesday, the Florida State Board of Education also announced that it had “replaced the course ‘Principles of Sociology’ with a comprehensive general education core course in American History.” In its statement, the board said that its goal was “to provide students with an accurate and factual account of the nation’s past, rather than exposing them to radical woke ideologies, which had become commonplace in the now replaced course.”
“Higher education must return to its essential foundations of academic integrity and the pursuit of knowledge instead of being corrupted by destructive ideologies,” Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr., said. “These actions today ensure that we will not spend taxpayers’ money supporting DEI and radical indoctrination that promotes division in our society.”
The new rule is part of the DeSantis administration’s years-long effort to reshape public education in the state to conform to its far-right agenda. In April 2022, DeSantis signed into law Florida’s infamous “Parental Rights in Education Act,” commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which has since been updated to ban discussion of sexuality and gender identity in grades K–12.
The following month, DeSantis signed the state’s “Stop WOKE Act,” which forbids schools and businesses from offering educational programs on racism and gender-based discrimination. The law is currently on hold as a court considers its impact on our constitutionally protected rights to free speech.