Florida Governor Ron DeSantis put pen to paper on three new bills Monday, further regulating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, a move that underscores the state's recent accolade as the nation's leading state for education.
The signed legislations include Senate Bill (SB) 266, which disallows the use of federal or state funds on DEI initiatives that foster discrimination; House Bill (HB) 931, prohibiting Florida's public institutions from imposing political loyalty tests on students, faculty, or staff; and SB 240, which broadens workforce education initiatives and enhances the accessibility of career and technical education (CTE) programs, as indicated by the governor's office.
DeSantis, celebrating Florida's seventh consecutive year as the nation's top-ranking state for higher education, expressed his confidence in these bills, saying "We are ensuring that Florida's institutions encourage diversity of thought, civil discourse, and the pursuit of truth for generations to come. Florida is taking a stand for empowering students, parents, and educators to focus on creating opportunities for our younger generations. I am happy to have worked with the legislature to get this important legislation signed, sealed, and delivered."
Of the three, SB 266 has attracted the most media attention, as it directly challenges “woke” ideologies within higher education by cutting off funding for "initiatives that promote dangerous political and social activism, such as DEI initiatives."
As detailed by the governor's office, "This bill prohibits programs, majors, minors, curriculum, and general education core courses that violate Florida law regarding prohibited discrimination or that are 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." The legislation will also require university presidents to take greater responsibility for hiring, promoting, and, when needed, disciplining faculty.
HB 931, meanwhile, protects schools from being forced to adopt "political statements and ideological attestations by faculty and students in hiring, promoting, and admissions."