Posted on January 20, 2022

Florida Could Ban Lessons About Discrimination That Make White Students Feel ‘Discomfort’

John Kennedy, USA Today, January 19, 2022

A Florida bill that would prohibit public schools and private businesses from making white people feel “discomfort” when they are taught or trained about discrimination in the nation’s past was advanced by a Senate committee on Tuesday.

The bill, which echoes a call by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, was met with criticism saying it will spawn censorship, lawsuits and more problems for teachers. The legislation (SB 148) by Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Miami, is said by its sponsor to protect “individual freedoms.”

The measure would bar teaching in grades K-12 that could make individuals feel responsible for historic wrongs because of their race, color, sex or national origin. At work, employment practices or training programs that make an individual feel guilty on similar grounds could be considered an unlawful employment practice – and subject a company to a lawsuit.

Democrats argued the bill isn’t needed, would lead to frivolous lawsuits and would amount to censorship in schools. {snip}

“This bill’s not for Blacks, this bill was not for any other race. This was directed to make whites not feel bad about what happened years ago,” said state Sen. Shevrin Jones, who is Black. “At no point did anyone say white people should be held responsible for what happened, but what I would ask my white counterparts is, are you an enabler of what happened or are you going to say we must talk about history?”

The legislation echoes a call by DeSantis, who last month outlined his “Stop WOKE Act,” which he said was to block “wrongs to our kids and employees.”

The new bill reads in part, “An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex. An individual should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race.”

“We shouldn’t be teaching students, for example in a diverse classroom, that someone is automatically racist or sexist or anti-immigrant by the sheer nature of their background,” Diaz told the Senate Education Committee.


DeSantis last year got the state Board of Education to prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in schools – where it is not currently taught – by saying it is “indoctrinating kids with faddish ideologies.”