Florida’s “Silencing Act”? College Rebels Sue Over Anti-Diversity Law

Florida seems to be pioneering some, uh, unique legislation that’s ruffling quite a few academic feathers. Remember when your college classroom was a haven for open discussions on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)? Well, not in Florida, if some have their way.

The story so far: The state’s just-passed Senate Bill 266 puts the kibosh on colleges promoting or even talking about DEI. Say what now? Yeah, you heard that right. Think about it – a place where young adults go to expand their horizons, suddenly censored from discussing DEI.

Not surprisingly, New College of Florida isn’t having any of it. Their faculty and students have teamed up and are taking this to court. Their ace in the hole? First Amendment lawyer, Gary Edinger, who went on record saying the law is “obviously unconstitutional.” Because, well, telling institutions and individuals what they can’t discuss or think about? That’s some dystopian-level stuff right there.

The state’s defenders have come up with an interesting angle. They’re claiming that since no new regulations based on the law have been drafted yet, the plaintiffs are jumping the gun and have no grounds to sue. But here’s where it gets juicy: U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, known for blocking Gov. Ron DeSantis’s “Stop WOKE Act,” might just give Senate Bill 266 the boot too. Though, there were some hints that the lawsuit might be a tad early. So, it’s a nail-biter.

Let’s put things into perspective here. This bill, which DeSantis happily signed, has drawn the ire of organizations like the ACLU. Their beef? They say this move is part of a larger plan by partisan politicians to essentially blindfold students about systemic racism, sexism, and other socio-political issues. The legislation is a big slap in the face, especially considering the undeniable existence of institutional racism today.

Now, if you’ve been following Florida’s educational adventures, you’d know this isn’t their first rodeo. DeSantis’s education plans often seem like they’re straight out of a whitewashing playbook. There’s been the rejection of an Advanced Placement Black Studies course and a blanket dismissal of “critical race theory,” albeit with a pretty warped definition. It’s almost like they’re trying to rewrite history.

Barbara Ransby, a historian, summed it up quite aptly: “DeSantis’s actions are about intimidation.” It seems like the objective here is to smother voices of dissent and critical thought. Because, heaven forbid, young minds think critically and potentially challenge the status quo.

So, are we looking at Florida turning into a place where academic freedom is just a dream? Where history is washed out to fit a particular narrative? Only time will tell. But one thing’s for sure – the battle for DEI in Florida classrooms has only just begun.