Photo Of Florida Students Spelling Racial Slur Fuels CRT Debate

A photo of Florida students spelling out a racial slur has reignited the debate over the ban of critical race theory in public schools.

By Erika Hanson | Published

Uncertainty Over When Florida Students Will Be Able To Return To Schools Following Hurricane Ian

Florida students

Critical race theory (CRT) is arguably the hottest topic in public school education. Florida has been directing the conservative charge against the controversial teaching, leading the way in passing historic laws this year focused on banning all forms of divisive concepts from schools in The Sunshine State. But with just as much support, the new laws have been met with fierce opposition. Now, the CRT debate is reignited once again, as a group of Florida students were photographed holding a sign that spelled out a racial slur. 

NPR reports that six Florida students within the Martin County School District in South Florida are under investigation for a photo that is making its rounds on social media. The photo depicts the students each holding up a sign with a letter that spells out the N-word. In a Tweet, the district confirmed that the photo was in fact legitimate, but they are protecting the names of the children involved. 

Denouncing the acts of the Florida students, the school district said they were “appalled, and saddened” by the kid’s actions. In a statement made by the district’s superintendent, John Millay, he said that the district is dedicated to creating a school environment that is “free of hateful, racist, and discriminatory actions or conduct.” A spokesperson told NPR that the Florida students that were involved are now falling strict disciplinary measures in accordance to school policy, but would not mention exactly what that penalty would be.

Because of the state’s strict laws against critical race theory in public schools, the incident with the Florida students is furthering opposers in their belief that banning CRT will be detrimental to youth and views on racism. The initiative, led by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, has long argued that critical race theory is a divisive concept that fuels more racism by inherently teaching white children that they are at fault for the long history of the nation’s racist beliefs. The state banned any teachings of CRT from school curriculums during the 2020-2021 school year, but DeSantis and conservative lawmakers took things a step further in making sure it didn’t sneak its way into teachings when the Stop WOKE Act was signed into law recently. 

Advocates for CRT say that the agenda that politicians against the teaching are trying to push is misleading. For one, they argue that CRT courses do not exist at the public school level. They say that it is a specific course material taught in certain college courses to study the laws throughout history that is said to be linked to systemic racism. Many leftist educators fear that such strict legislation will mean that they will be unable to teach about racism at all to students. Because of this, they are pointing to the case of the Florida students as more proof. 

Justin Simmons, a Denver Broncos safety also spoke out against the actions of the Florida students, vowing to stop supporting the district in which he use to attend if the school does not swiftly and efficiently respond the to issue. Similarly, a professor with the University of Kentucky College of Social work told NPR that the incident is just another example of why the teaching of CRT remains important. Montreal Pryor said that “From a diversity perspective, this is why critical race theory is important. [Critical race theory] allows students of all races, creeds, and backgrounds to understand America’s volatile past within the context of the educational curriculum so that generational trauma, such as this, is not repeated.”

But with just as much support pointing to a need for the teaching of CRT, others have claimed that the incident has nothing to do with the ban on teaching divisive concepts in school. These advocates claim that the push is not to bar any talk about racist practices and beliefs, but simply to make sure that no child is made to feel guilty for the actions of their ancestors. The district’s director of public information told CBS12 News that CRT is not relevant or correlated with the photo of the Florida students. Either way, the battle over CRT and its use in education will likely continue to rage on in public schools across the nation.