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Cruel Florida governor Ron DeSantis signs ‘Stop WOKE Act’ all but ‘censoring’ LGBT+ issues

Josh Milton April 24, 2022
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Ron DeSantis at a wrestling match

Florida governor Ron DeSantis. (James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Florida’s cruel crackdown on LGBT+ rights has deepened after governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill all but censoring queer topics in schools and workplaces.

On top of the reviled ‘Don’t Say Gay‘ bill that blocks educators from discussing LGBT+ identities in K-12 schools, DeSantis signed the “Stop WOKE Act” on Friday (22 April) in Hialeah Gardens.

The bill, short for “Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees”, heavily restricts how workplaces, schools and colleges can teach about racism, homophobia and other systemic biases.

It bans anyone from discussing how people can be “inherently racist, sexist or oppressive” or that people can be responsible or should feel guilty for historic injustices against people on the same grounds.

Workers will now wield the power to file civil discrimination claims against an employer for discussing or running training sessions on Black history, LGBT+ issues and other injustices.

Within moments of it being signed into the books, a group of plaintiffs including a teacher and a professor filed a federal lawsuit against DeSantis, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

They alleged that the law, HB 7, violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The complaint was filed Friday in US District Court in the Northern District of Florida.

“I think it’s as important to teach the ugly truth about our history as it is to teach the beautiful things about our history,” one plaintiff, Jill Harper, told the newspaper.

LGBT+ activist group recoils in horror over ‘mean-spirited’ act

The Stop WOKE Act was passed by the Florida House in February by a vote of 74-41, with the Florida Senate doing the same the following month by 24-15.

“No one should be instructed to feel as if they are not equal or shamed because of their race,” Ron DeSantis said in a statement on Friday.

“In Florida, we will not let the far-left woke agenda take over our schools and workplaces. There is no place for indoctrination or discrimination in Florida.”

DeSantis, touted as a potential Republican presidential candidate for 2024, pitched the measure himself in December, lauding it as the latest in his growing effort to short-circuit “corporate wokeness”.

Ron DeSantis speaks during the first day of the Conservative Political Action Conference
Ron DeSantis has launched ever-increasing attacks against LGBT+ rights. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The act will take effect in July, with public universities, colleges and companies being thrown onto the firing line if they go against the “individual freedom” principles set out by Republicans.

One example listed would be the teaching of privilege, the idea that some people have advantages over others. This imbalance of power is often invisible to those who possess it, but acknowledging it in a workplace training lesson would open a potential civil rights case against the employer.

The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT+ rights group, condemned DeSantis’ latest salvos against minorities.

“Governor DeSantis did the opposite of what the governor of Florida is elected to do – to protect and serve all of his constituents – choosing instead to yet again use the power of the government to punish or censor anyone he disagrees with and attack marginalized Floridians, including the LGBTQ+ community,” said Cathryn Oakley, the group’s state legislative director, in a statement.

“The ‘Stop WOKE’ Act is designed to further exclude marginalized groups from necessary conversations in our schools, communities, and workplaces and to further limit individuals who deserve to exist freely, proudly, and to have their stories shared.

“Yet again, DeSantis is putting his ideology before the best interests of Floridians, and making a mess with slapdash, mean-spirited, impossible-to-comply-with law.”

More: Florida, Ron DeSantis

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