Governor Ron DeSantis’ attempts to restrict discussions of race and gender issues in Florida have been put on hold, according to a recent federal court ruling. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld a November injunction against the “Stop WOKE Act,” which prevents any kind of instruction or training that could make people feel uncomfortable or guilty based on their race, gender, or national origin.
The law’s legal challengers argue that it would unconstitutionally restrict discussions about the country’s history of discrimination. Critics also claim that the legislation could cause professors to lose their jobs and institutions to lose funding. After Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker’s 139-page ruling in November, the case was appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
DeSantis’ office shrugged off the ruling, saying the appeal is ongoing, and the office remains confident that the law is constitutional.
Last year’s law will not affect instruction for the time being, and opponents have called it a victory for the First Amendment. Meanwhile, the ACLU has challenged similar classroom censorship laws in Oklahoma and New Hampshire and awaits rulings in both cases. However, new bills under discussion this year seem to be treading into the same territory.
Republican Senator Erin Grall has proposed a bill that prohibits general education courses that “suppress or distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics.” The bill has received one committee nod, and similar legislation making its way through the House has taken that language out.
The court’s decision not to lift the injunction during the appeal could strengthen similar challenges to classroom censorship efforts in Florida and other states, according to a news release.