Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ anti-critical race theory law to take effect

The law is set to go into effect on July 1.

June 30, 2022, 8:14 AM

One of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' key legislative efforts against race education, called the Stop WOKE Act, has been given the green light after a federal judge declined to block it before it takes effect on July 1.

The law, which easily moved through the GOP-controlled legislature, would ban lessons and training on race and diversity in schools and in the workplace.

It was one of many nationwide attacks on education in schools under the guise of "critical race theory."

Critical race theory is a discipline often taught in graduate schools and higher education that seeks to understand how racism has shaped U.S. laws and how those laws have continued to impact the lives of non-white people, according to scholars of the theory.

Supporters of the Stop WOKE Act say that critical race theory is discriminatory and that people should not be taught that some races or sexes are inherently oppressed or privileged. WOKE stands for "Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees."

In this April 22, 2022, file photo, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reacts after signing HB 7, titled "Individual Freedom," also dubbed the "Stop Woke" bill, at Mater Academy Charter Middle/High School in Hialeah Gardens, Fla.
Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald via TNS via Getty Images, FILE

The GOP majority pushed it through the legislature this year and DeSantis signed it into law in April.

"No one should be instructed to feel as if they are not equal or shamed because of their race," DeSantis said in a statement at the time. "In Florida, we will not let the far-left woke agenda take over our schools and workplaces. There is no place for indoctrination or discrimination in Florida."

Critics of the law say this is an attempt to impede on education about systemic racism and oppression in schools. They also say it impedes on training that could help address issues of bias and prejudice in the workplace.

Critical race theory has become an umbrella term used by conservatives for lessons on race and diversity, critics argue.

The law was challenged almost immediately. Educators, consultants and parents filed a lawsuit that said the law infringes on their rights to "academic freedom, freedom of expression and access to information under the First Amendment," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs.

In this Feb. 24, 2022, file photo, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis delivers remarks at the 2022 CPAC conference in Orlando, Fla.
Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via TNS via Getty Images, FILE

"Far from indoctrinating students into a so-called 'woke agenda,' educators often struggle to teach about the history and origins of racism, resulting in a generation of high school graduates who lack basic information about the history of their country, according to a study by Learning for Justice," SPLC said in a statement. "HB 7 would deepen this learning gap as educators, understandably fearful of public threats to police them, seek to avoid the penalties embedded in the law for teaching about prohibited topics such as the factual disparities in wealth, education and housing for Black people in this country."

Judge Mark Walker, alongside supporters and critics of the bill, listened to hourslong debate about the bill in a hearing before deciding against temporarily blocking the legislation.