TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida House Bill 999 aims to target both diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, also known as DEI, and the study of critical race theory at all of the state’s public universities.
Gov. Ron DeSantis supports the passing of the bill to ban all spending designated to “promote, support, or maintain” the subjects that supporters describe as “political identity” filters.
“The people who are going to suffer the consequences of these bills are kids,” said Chris Finan, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship.
Finan warned that one of the consequences of the restrictions could be that Florida schools’ reputations get damaged to the point that adding them to a resume could become like a “badge of infamy.”
Some students are organizing protests against the bill. Police officers arrested four students on Monday at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
The students — Gia Davila, 21; Laura Rodriguez, 23; Jeanie Kida, 26; and Chrisley Carpio, 31 — faced charges of battery on a law enforcement officer; resisting an officer without violence; and disrupting a school campus or function, according to Hillsborough County records.
In response, DeSantis’s office released a statement saying House Bill 999, aims to push back “against the tactics of liberal elites who suppress free thought in the name of identity politics and indoctrination.”
Finan said the bill also presents a threat to college professors.
“They can be reviewed ... without any cause, without any shown need for such a review, which is going to hang like a hammer of the heads of teachers,” Finan said.
De Santis has supported other controversial laws related to public education. He signed the Parental Rights in Education bill, which critics refer to as the Don’t Say Gay bill, to limit sex ed at public schools, and the House Bill 1467, which limits the books available at schools.
DeSantis endorsed Florida House Bill 7, better known as the Stop WOKE Act, to restrict educational discussions about race and gender at schools, but a federal judge blocked it late last year.