June 22, 2024

Florida public colleges barred from using state and federal funds for DEI programs under new rule

Florida’s Board of Education announced a new rule on Wednesday that bars public colleges from using state and federal funds for diversity, equity and inclusion programs, activities and policies. 

The rule, which applies to the 28 schools within the Florida College System, “will ensure that taxpayer funds can no longer be used to promote DEI on Florida’s 28 state college campuses,” the board wrote in a statement.

Those schools include Seminole State College of Florida, Valencia College, Florida State College at Jacksonville and others that currently serve sizable populations of Black and Latino students. 

Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. said in a statement that higher education must reject being “corrupted by destructive ideologies. These actions today ensure that we will not spend taxpayers’ money supporting DEI and radical indoctrination that promotes division in our society.”

Civil rights advocate and attorney Ben Crump immediately denounced the move. “We continue to go down a misguided path of censorship in Florida!” he wrote on X.

The board also announced that colleges will replace the course “Principles of Sociology” with a general education American history course, claiming the former curriculum exposed students to “radical woke ideologies.”

In May 2023, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation to create related restrictions in higher education. The bills barred state colleges and universities from using public funds to promote activism or advocacy for DEI efforts. The legislation also dictates the ways race, gender can be taught in classrooms, while emphasizing the study of Western civilization. 

A request for comment from the governor’s office was directed to DeSantis’ remarks given at the Department of Education at the signing ceremony in May. “DEI is better viewed as standing for ‘discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination,’ and that has no place in our public institutions,” he said.  

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