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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is determined to reshape Florida's education system. Photo: Getty

Florida's power shift in Higher Education

Florida legislators proposed bills that would ban gender studies, limit trans pronouns, and revoke parental rights for children subjected to sex reassignment

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The Florida education system is facing many challenges—controversial, as legislation sought to eliminate college majors in gender studies—a transformation meant to reshape Florida’s education system.

The power shift in higher education is palpable, and the fight against “woke indoctrination” has become customary among Republicans.

After Gov. DeSantis won in November, “very few Republicans pushed against his policy proposals, instead crafting and passing bills that align with the governor’s mission to remake education in Florida from kindergarten through college,” reported The Washington Post. 

Gov. DeSantis signed the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, became infamously known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which reads: “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

Although Florida has passed the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act, which prohibits schools and workplaces from insinuating that any individual, race, color, or sex or national origin “bears responsibility for and must feel guilt, anguish or other forms of psychological distress.” One of the many bills threatening diversity and inclusion in higher education

List of controversial bills affecting education in Florida from kindergarten through higher ed:

  • LGBTQ Rights
    • HB 1223: bill requires K-12 school staff to only use pronouns for a child’s biological sex, “school district personnel may not discourage or prohibit parental notification of and involvement in critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being.” The bill expands restrictions on classroom instruction to Pre-K through 8th grade on sexual orientation or gender identity. 
    • HB 1069: requires students in grades 6-12 to be learn that “sex is determined by biology and reproductive function at birth; that biological males impregnate biological females by fertilizing the female egg with male sperm; that the female then gestates the offspring; and that these reproductive roles are binary, stable, and unchangeable.”
    • SB 1320: Similar to HB 1223, SB 1320 is an act relating to child protection in public schools that prohibits employees, contractors, or students of a public school program from using personal titles or pronouns that do not correspond with that person’s sex. 
  • Higher Education 
    • HB 999: provides the requirement for hiring state university faculty, prohibiting “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” hiring practices and revises requirements for general education core courses—“provide direction to each constituent university on removing from its programs any major or minor in Critical Race Theory, Gender Studies, or Intersectionality, or any derivative major or minor of these belief systems,” also requires the Articulation Coordinating Committee to submit certain courses to the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors. 
  • Freedom of the Press
    • HB 991: this act focuses on defamation, making it easier to sue media outlets—this includes anonymous statements or statements to be presumed false. 
    • SB 1316: requires bloggers who write about “elected state officer, must register with the state “within 5 days after the first post by the blogger which mentions elected state officer.”
  • Transgender Rights
    • SB 254: prohibits treatment for sex reassignment, which includes prescriptions or procedures and requires the court “to consider certain information when determining whether the court of another jurisdiction is the more appropriate or convenient forum for child custody determination proceedings.”
  • Other
    • SB 256, filed by Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, affects educators, librarians, paraprofessionals, and more. If the bill passes, it will prevent unionized public sector workers from “having dues and uniform assessments deducted and collected by the employer from certain salaries.” However, Florida’s status as a “right-to-work” state complicates things. The Article, 1 Section 6 of the Florida Constitution states, “The right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or non-membership in any labor union or labor organization. The right of employees, by and through a labor organization, to bargain collectively shall not be denied or abridged. Public employees shall not have the right to strike.” 

 

 

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