JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis’ so-called ‘Stop W.O.K.E. Act’ has been dealt another blow, with a federal judge blocking a major portion of the law that applied to colleges and universities.
The law prohibits the teaching of concepts like racial superiority and the idea some races are inherently advantaged or disadvantaged in K-12, higher ed and by private businesses.
Students, parents and employees are given the ability to sue if instruction makes them feel guilt, anguish or distress because of their race, color, sex or national origin.
“I think a lot of people were rightfully nervous,” said Dr. Tru Leverette Hall, Director of African Studies at the University of North Florida.
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She said students are exposed to a wide range of viewpoints in subjects like history, literature and psychology.
The ‘Stop W.O.K.E. Act’ made navigating those topics a minefield, driving her to put a disclaimer on her syllabus.
“To say these are the concepts we will be thinking about and to use the language of HB 7, that you know this is not an intention to indoctrinate you,” said Leverette Hall.
In his 139-page ruling striking down enforcement of the Stop W.O.K.E. Act as it relates to higher education, Judge Mark Walker called the law, “Positively Dystopian.”
Elizabeth Brown, President of the United Faculty of Florida’s UNF chapter, said now that the law is on hold, professors will be able to breath a sigh of relief and go back to teaching as usual.
“This ruling now allows professors and students to be able to freely engage in that information seeking and that information discussion,” said Brown.
The Governor’s Office pushed back in a statement, arguing the concepts prohibited by the law are akin to discrimination.
“The Stop W.O.K.E. Act protects the open exchange of ideas by prohibiting teachers or employers who hold agency over others from forcing discriminatory concepts on students,” said Jeremy Redfern, DeSantis’ deputy press secretary.
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The administration intends to appeal the ruling, as well as previous rulings from the same judge that struck down the parts of the law dealing with private employers.