Senate bill restricting education on racism, sexism and oppression gets committee go-ahead

The legislation would limit curriculum at Florida colleges and universities
Senate committee votes to prohibit use of state money for diversity programs
Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 9:06 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Florida Senate Appropriations Committee on Education greenlighted a bill Wednesday dictating how state universities can teach about racism, sexism and oppression.

The legislation has sparked fierce criticism from opponents, who say it’s an attempt to “whitewash” American history.

About two dozen people testified against the bill Wednesday, including several FSU professors. One said this legislation is already creating problems with recruiting professors and graduate students. She said she’s hearing from candidates that they don’t think now is a good time to be an educator in Florida.

SB 266 is similar, but not identical, to its companion bill in the House. HB 999 prohibits Florida universities from using state money to fund diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

This Senate version says that state universities cannot use any funds to support programs based on “theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political and economic inequities.”

Senate Republicans argue these theories have no place in education.

“Critical race theory or any other such theory that believes that America is an inherently racist, sexist, you know, the full words of this bill, those are not the gateway to truth,” said Republican Alexis Calatayud.

Opponents argue the bill tries to censor the realities of American history.

“As a Black man in America, I know the history of this United States of America is one of institutionalized racism, beginning with the forced enslavement of my ancestors over 400 years ago and continuing with the legal segregation and discrimination against people who look like me today,” said Genesis Robinson with Equal Ground Action Fund, during public comment.

Republicans also argue that because public universities are funded by taxpayers, the government has the authority to make rules about how these schools can operate.

This bill still has one more committee stop before it goes to the full Senate.