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Florida bill would ban diversity programs on college campuses

By Elizabeth Delaney
|
March 15, 2023

The Florida state legislature is in the midst of an incredibly busy session that involves several controversial bills.

One controversial bill in particular that just passed in the Florida House on Monday is House Bill 999, also known as the Public Postsecondary Educational Institutions bill, according to The Hill.

What HB 999 proposes

The bill was introduced by District 2 State Rep. Alex Andrade (R), and basically makes is illegal for state universities to create programs or implement hiring practices involving "diversity, equity, and inclusion," according to Forbes.

The law would also preclude universities from being able to legally use critical race theory "or other forms of political identity filters as part of the hiring process," including in instances of applications submitted for promotion and tenure, according to The Hill.

In addition, universities could not legally offer a major or minor in Gender Studies or anything related to it, according to Forbes.

However, it would be easier for universities to review tenured professors, and grant more power to Florida's Board of Governors, which DeSantis appoints.

When the bill was debated on Monday, Gainesville Democrat Rep. Yvonne Hinson wanted Andrade to explain how Black student unions and LGBT organizations would be impacted by the bill if it were signed into law.

"Those student groups can continue to operate how they see fit currently, subject only to the policies and procedures that are content neutral that apply to all organizations, student organizations on campus," Andrade said.

The Florida Senate will be debating the bill during their Wednesday session.

HB 999 and SB 7 will work together

Bill 999 is intended to expand on Senate Bill 7, which is also known as the "Stop Woke Act," according to The Fire.

Senate Bill 7 was passed on March 10th, and is on its way Governor Ron DeSantis' desk for his consideration to sign into law or veto, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

The Florida Senate website provides a summary of the bill stating that, "The bill includes provisions designed to protect individual freedoms and prevent discrimination in the workplace and in public schools. The bill also conforms the identification of protected classes in the law prohibiting discrimination in Florida’s K-20 educational system to those identified in federal law and the Florida Civil Rights Act."

Other bills the Florida Legislature will debate

The Florida legislature has been in session since March 7, and will remain in session for 60 days. They will be discussing several other controversial bills.

Governor Ron DeSantis is in support of many of the bills being introduced. He's anticipated to announce a presidential bid for the 2024 election shortly after the session ends.

DeSantis has promised that the present session will be "the most productive session we've had."

Some of the other bills on the table are:

HB 243, which involves gun rights and concealed carry without a license.

HB 1223, which involves LGBTQ rights and school staff use of pronouns for children.

HB 991, which involves freedom of the press.

Immigration and proposals regarding new legislation in regard to illegal immigrants in Florida will also be a topic of debate.