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Bill banning 'woke' school lessons, workplace training in Florida advances

Lawmakers in the state House passed the so-called “Individual Freedom” bill, which now heads to the Senate.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A bill to quash school lessons or workplace training that could make participants feel discomfort or guilt was advanced by Florida lawmakers Thursday.

HB 7 – known as the “Individual Freedom” bill – says it is discrimination to force anyone to take any teaching or training that makes them "feel guilt" based on their "race, color, sex or national origin."

It bans any teachings or trainings that “espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels” someone to believe a particular race or sex is morally superior, or an individual can be inherently racist or sexist.

In wake of debate over what’s known as critical race theory, supporters, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, say this bill is about stopping “woke” indoctrination and expanding protections from discrimination.

DeSantis proposed legislation called the Stop W.O.K.E. Act to address critical race theory back in December.

Critics say it will stifle necessary, but uncomfortable topics related to history and race. Nowhere in the bill does it specifically say “critical race theory.”

The Florida Education Association teachers union criticized the bill and HB 1557 — known as the "Parental Rights in Education" or the "Don't Say Gay" bill, according to critics – as "censorship" legislation that will "limit what schools can say and teach regarding our nation's history and regarding issues related to students who are part of or associated with the LGBTQ+ community."

“Educators love their students. We all want to make sure that every child can grow and thrive, regardless of race, background, ZIP code or ability,” Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar said in a statement. “These bills mean some of our students will no longer feel safe and secure, or even seen, based on who they are. 

"Both bills promote discrimination and censorship, and send the clearly un-American message to students that individuality is not valued, that everyone must conform to a single point of view.”

RELATED: Florida's 'parental rights' bill passes House, heads to Senate committee

Critical race theory is defined by Meriam-Webster as “a group of concepts used for examining the relationship between race and the laws and legal institutions of a country and especially the United States.”

The theory is not taught in Florida schools at any grade level right now. According to the bill's analysis, it would prevent the topic from being taught in order to block what it classified as a distortion of historical events that are inconsistent with State Board of Education guidelines.

RELATED: Florida lawmakers debate 'individual freedom' bill, which could spur lawsuits

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