We will battle multiple times during this legislative session to fight the culture wars promoted by Republicans. They insist on dividing Floridians for political purposes rather than paying attention to those real issues that affect us such as voting rights suppression, affordable health care and housing, and climate change. One of our first battles is SB 148 (Diaz) Individual Freedom, falsely portrayed as a bill to " protect individual freedoms and prevent discrimination in the workplace and in public schools." It will be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, January 18 at 11:00 am ET. We need you to urgently OPPOSE this bill by contacting the committee members below, writing letters-to-the editor, and posting on social media. Background— As part of Gov. DeSantis’ Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act, this bill adds completely new language F.S. 760.10 relating to unlawful employment practices and F.S. 1003.42 relating to health and character education in K-12 schools. It primarily mandates that businesses and schools must support the principles of individual freedom by teaching and training that:
No individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex.
No race is inherently superior to another race.
No individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, or sex.
Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are not racist but fundamental to the right to pursue happiness and be rewarded for industry.
An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
An individual should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race.
In other words, Republicans don’t want white/straight people to feel bad. The bill is modeled after the ex-President’s highly controversial executive order (13950) signed in September 2020 that prohibited federal contractors from implementing training programs that promote “race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating.” That order was extremely unpopular with businesses, blocked by a federal judge on First Amendment grounds, and eventually rescinded by President Biden’s executive order. It is also one of many such egregious laws regarding teaching or training in businesses and/or schools that have been passed by many Republican state legislatures. A Few Talking Points—
Republicans constantly talk of freedom, which includes freedom of speech, yet they want to suppress free speech in our schools and businesses.
We can pretend all we want that we don’t have systemic racism or implicit bias in our society, but that doesn’t take it away. We must address discrimination and have open conversations about its destructive ramifications.
Our education is already woefully inadequate and inaccurate with respect to discrimination based on race and sex. How else is it possible that many individuals are now just learning about the past atrocities of the Oklahoma City massacre, the many injustices that individuals have faced—and continue to face-- in the housing, employment, and healthcare sectors due to race or gender bias, and many others? This bill will ensure that we make no progress and only regress.
This bill is yet another Republican abomination destined to be fought in the courts through an expensive time-consuming process that wastes our tax dollars.
Please contact the following members of the Senate Education Committee before Tuesday Jan. 18 and tell them to VOTE NO on SB 148 Individual Freedom.
(committee contacts are provided in various formats for ease of access to cut/paste).
Chair: Senator Joe Gruters (R)
Vice Chair: Senator Shervin D. "Shev" Jones (D)
Senator Lori Berman (D)
Senator Jennifer Bradley (R)
Senator Doug Broxson (R)
Senator Manny Diaz, Jr. (R)
Senator Travis Hutson (R)
Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R)
Senator Tina Scott Polsky (D)
Senator Perry E. Thurston, Jr. (D)
DWCF Legislative Chair