Florida bans DEI programs at state colleges and universities

Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. (WFLA YouTube screenshot)

On Jan. 17 the Florida State Board of Education implemented strict regulations to limit the use of public funds for diversity, equity and inclusion programs, activities and policies in the Florida college system.

The rule adopted by the board defined, for the first time, DEI and affirmatively prohibits FCS institutions from using state or federal funds to administer programs that categorize individuals based on race or sex for the purpose of differential or preferential treatment.

In a statement the board noted that its decision “will ensure that taxpayer funds can no longer be used to promote DEI on Florida’s 28 state college campuses.”

“The State Board of Education also replaced the course ‘Principles of Sociology’ with a comprehensive general education core course in American history. The aim is to provide students with an accurate and factual account of the nation’s past, rather than exposing them to radical woke ideologies, which had become commonplace in the now replaced course,” the statement continued.

“Higher education must return to its essential foundations of academic integrity and the pursuit of knowledge instead of being corrupted by destructive ideologies,” said Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “These actions today ensure that we will not spend taxpayers’ money supporting DEI and radical indoctrination that promotes division in our society.”

Joe Saunders, senior political director for Equality Florida, responded. 

“There’s no surprise today that the State Board of Education, a board that has been a rubber stamp for Gov. Ron DeSantis’s agenda of censorship and surveillance, moved forward with another sweepingly broad rule that abolishes diversity and inclusion programs in the Florida College System,” Saunders said.

“The board’s rules go well beyond what’s required by Gov. DeSantis’s already extreme SB 266, handcuffing state colleges from using any state-funded resources on diversity programs that help recruit talented faculty, support students with unique needs, and help Florida’s colleges compete for national research and funding,” he continued. “This is a brazenly political attack on Florida’s colleges, and all minorities in Florida, and is one more way state agencies have been weaponized to support Gov. DeSantis’s failing political ambitions. Shame on the State Board of Education for passing rules that weaken and threaten Florida’s colleges in service to one more manufactured culture war,” Saunders added.

The Human Rights Campaign reacted to the news as well.

“The State Board of Education’s rule is the latest in right wing attacks on programs that make college campuses inclusive, welcoming, and ensure all students and faculty have the chance to thrive. In his quest for power, Gov. DeSantis has weaponized state agencies, wielding them against the people they are there to serve, and used education as his political punching bag. This is a shameful assault on Florida’s college students and staff of all backgrounds,” National Press Secretary Brandon Wolf said in an emailed statement.

The National LGBT Media Association represents 13 legacy publications in major markets across the country with a collective readership of more than 400K in print and more than 1 million + online. Learn more here: NationalLGBTMediaAssociation.com.

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