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Florida House Subcommittee Passes Bill to Ban DEI Programs and Certain Majors at State Universities

The new “In the States” feature by Kaitlyn Brennan is a weekly update to keep members informed on state-level activities impacting the education and educator preparation community.

On Monday, lawmakers on the Florida state House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Subcommittee passed FL HB999 (23R) — a wide ranging legislation that would introduce a number of new policies for the state university system across Florida. These policies include but are not limited to eliminating majors or minors that touch on subjects such as critical race theory and “radical” feminist or gender theories. The proposal would also prohibit universities and colleges from spending or accepting funds — from the state, feds, or elsewhere — on programs linked to diversity, equity and inclusion and critical race theory.

In a statement, Irene Mulvey, President of the American Association of University Professors said:

“It is state-mandated censorship … Under HB 999, the state is dictating what can be taught and what can be learned and what must not be taught. This is positively incompatible with democracy. It’s a complete violation of academic freedom. People should recognize how dangerous this is.”

Republicans in several state legislatures have targeted academic programs for purportedly pushing a “woke, left-wing” agenda onto students. However, David Canton, director of the African American studies program at the University of Florida challenged  this notion, saying: “The misperception is that in these majors, students are being told what to think and what to do, rather than being introduced to different perspectives … If you go to any African American-studies class, they’re not indoctrinating students with this ‘woke’ ideology.”


College students across the state of Florida have organized walkouts and protested their opposition to the proposed legislation. The University of Florida College Democrats sent out a statement that includes information about House Bill 999 and how it affects students across Florida universities. In a statement, University of Florida College Democrats said:

“These measures, along with the efforts to defund diversity, equity, inclusion and the audit of gender-affirming care on university campuses, are blatantly attacking our student communities as well as our academic freedom…join us, along with universities across the state to stand up against Ron DeSantis’ reign of terror by taking action.”

HB 999 is slated for two additional committee hearings in the Florida state House. A companion bill in the Senate, FL SB266 (23R), is scheduled for its first hearing on Wednesday.