A Florida bill known as the Stop Woke Act is slated to pass the Senate floor being touted as the strongest legislation of its kind.
Last week, a controversial bill passed the Florida House of Representatives. House Bill 7, also known as the Stop Woke Act, stands for wrongs to our kids and employees. Its purpose is aimed to prohibit public schools and private businesses from making people feel uncomfortable or guilty over their race, sex, or national origin. But moreover, for many backers of the bill, it’s touted to stop critical race theory teachings inside Florida classrooms.
The 30-page long bill never specifically mentions critical race theory, however, Governor Ron DeSantis has pushed his support for the bill as a means to extinguish the controversial teaching. Depending on who you ask, critical race theory has many different definitions. To liberals, it’s a means of teaching how American racism shaped public policy. It’s the notion that race is a social construct where racism has been embedded within legal systems and policies.
To many Republicans, including Florida mayor and backer of the Stop Woke Act, critical race theory does more damage to racial teaching by singling out one group as an oppressor further dividing the nation. In December, DeSantis officially backed the bill with an official statement. “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,” Similar supporters, like Christopher Rufo, say it will keep schools from imposing opinions on students. Rufo, a conservative activist and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, shared pictures of the bill with a celebratory Tweet after it passed the House of Representatives.
To protest the passing of the Stop Woke Act, protestors gathered at the end of Clematis Street in West Palm Beach this past Tuesday. “We are here to tell the Florida Legislature that we see them, we oppose this. We do not want this, Emmy Kenny said at the protest speaking with K12 News.
Representative Ramon Alexander, a Democrat from Leon County, said the bill was built on a “false narrative” during the House debate. A common perspective to the act from its challengers, many often point out that critical race theory is not currently being taught in Florida schools. In fact, the Florida Department of Education already banned critical race theory and teaching on the 1619 project from K-12 public schools last summer. Furthermore, opponents believe the sole purpose of the Stop Woke Act aims to further divide political parties and limit classroom discussions about sexual orientation.
To rebut adversaries to the Stop Woke Act, Republicans argue that the bill focuses on classroom discussions and vow that it will not prohibit children from talking to teachers and trusted adults in schools about their sexual identity. On the other hand, Liberal backers made note that the legislation terms from another bill that passed the house could have sweeping negative effects on kids in the classroom that identify as LGBTQ. House bill 1557, or the “Don’t Say Gay” bill would prohibit instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity. However, Republicans were quick to respond to challengers pointing out that the bill only applies to children grade three and under.
“It sends a terrible message to our youth that there is something so wrong, so inappropriate, so dangerous about this topic that we have to censor it from classroom instruction,” said Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando-based gay Democrat. However, Republicans remain diligent that Liberals are heavily trying to push a mischaracterized measure within the Stop Woke Act to the public. “The bill, plain as day, states that we cannot have instruction … meaning curriculum led by teachers, teaching children ages 5 through 9, about sexual orientation and gender identity. Think about that. Children that are learning how to color inside the lines, that are learning sight words,” said Representative Kaylee Tuck. The bill included terminology that suggests teachers would be able to talk about topics like sexism, racism, slavery, and racial segregation however, they can’t persuade students to a particular point of view.
Now that the Stop Woke Act has swept the House of Representatives, it will next head to the Senate floor. As most Floridians believe it will pass the Senate, it will then head onto the desk of Governor DeSantis himself, who will sign it into law. As a heavy backer of the legislation, the approval of the Stop Woke Act and banning of critical race theory in classrooms looks to be part of DeSantis’ push as a contender for the next presidential elections. Gaining support for the oval office run from plenty of Trump supporters, the former President also slammed the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms across the nation. As the bill heads on to the Senate, the act is being touted nationwide for being the “strongest” legislation of its kind so far in the nation.