Last month, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the implementation of Governor Ron DeSantis’ Stop WOKE Act. The law, which was passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature and signed by DeSantis in 2022, is widely supported by conservatives across the state.
The legislation takes sweeping steps to prevent the teaching of critical race theory and related concepts in colleges and universities, as well as K-12 schools. It mandates the scaling back of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts at public institutions in higher education, drawing backlash from many Democrats.
The act also allows employees of companies in Florida to opt out of formerly mandatory employee diversity training. Specifically, corporations would be unable to compel employees to participate in these sessions if participants are told that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
The governor has recently built on efforts made by the Stop WOKE Act by proposing the elimination of DEI departments at state colleges and universities, among other measures.
In response to the 11th Circuit’s ruling, DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin argued that the court “did not rule on the merits of our appeal. The appeal is ongoing, and we remain confident that the law is constitutional.”
Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), have sued the state over provisions of the law that would combat what DeSantis has referred to as “indoctrination” in higher education.
“You don’t get to replace one orthodoxy with another, and you’re not going to get to freedom of speech through censorship,” Adam Steinbaugh, an attorney for FIRE, told NBC News.
Amid the continuing controversy over “Stop WOKE,” Republicans in the state legislature have introduced House Bill (HB) 999, which would codify many of the governor’s education proposals into law.
“Conservative voters have told us for years that college campuses have been far too focused on political indoctrination and not enough focus has been on preparing students for the real world,” Rep. Andrade said after introducing the legislation.
At Florida State, the Student Government Association (SGA) has continued to express unified opposition to the measures, condemning HB 999 in “the strongest possible terms.”
“The Student Senate at Florida State University will always stand with marginalized communities at Florida State University, and with the entities across the breadth of this university that work tirelessly to support said communities,” the 75th Student Senate said in a resolution last week.
Republicans on campus have criticized SGA for its position, including vice president of Florida State College Republicans, Ernie Sampera.
“There is virtually no ideological difference between the two,” Sampera said of the two parties in student government, ForwardFSU and Surge.