The GOP-controlled state Senate in Florida passed a legislation on Thursday that limits how public schools and workplaces teach about race and identify.
The Individual Freedom bill which bans teaching people to feel guilty for historical events committed by people of their race, passed in Florida Thursday on a 24-15 vote.
The bill broadens the definition of discrimination to include making another person feel uncomfortable over historic actions by their race, nationality or gender.
The Hill noted that this broad definition of discrimination could affect private businesses and companies asking employees to undergo implicit bias or sexual harassment training could face legal liability, as “uncomfortable” workers may sue because they feel they have been discriminated against.
Democrats are concerned that the bill could lead to schools desensitizing historical events such as Jim Crow and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. But, the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Manny Díaz Jr. claim schools can still teach their students about those historical events, just do it in an “age-appropriate manner” and ensure that they do not “indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view.”
“If you tell a student in the classroom that because he’s a male, he is responsible for any sexist laws or actions that have been taken in the past, that is a violation of this bill,” Díaz said, according to CNN. “If you tell a White student that they are responsible for slavery, that’s a violation of this bill. It doesn’t preclude you from covering the topic, giving your perspective, doing everything that needs to be done to educate these students, but it doesn’t give you the right as a teacher to impose that on to a student. Parents shouldn’t accept that and we shouldn’t.”
The legislation is part of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (W.O.K.E.) Act which he has touted as one of his administration’s top priorities.
The bill is the latest piece of legislation in the Republican-led crusade against Critical Race Theory which is not taught in K-12 schools. DeSantis banned critical race theory last year. In December, he called on lawmakers to extend the prohibition to all public schools, including colleges, and the workplace, CNN reports.
“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,” DeSantis said at the time.
The bill now heads to DeSantis’ desk where he’s expected to sign it into law.