Florida Board of Education Prohibits DEI and Eliminates Sociology Core Course at College Campuses

The Florida Board of Education has given its approval to regulations that prohibit the expenditure of funds on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, as well as remove sociology as an option for general education core courses at community and state colleges. This decision aligns with similar actions taken in Texas, where a law banning DEI spending was passed last year.

During the board’s morning meeting on Tallahassee Community College’s campus, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. assured that students will still receive a high-quality education.

These regulations were established in line with Governor Ron DeSantis’ conservative education agenda. The governor had signed a DEI law last year, which not only dismantles such programs in public colleges and universities but also makes changes to the post-tenure review process for faculty.

While DEI regulations for institutions in the State University System have already been introduced by Florida’s Board of Governors, the Board of Education’s unanimous vote on Wednesday officially implements the rule for the Florida College System, which comprises of 28 colleges.

According to a Chronicle of Higher Education tracker, a total of 49 bills aimed at targeting DEI have been introduced in 23 states as of January. Out of these 49 bills, seven have been signed into law.

The regulation prohibits institutions from using their funds on DEI and from advocating for DEI, which is defined specifically as any program, campus activity, or policy that classifies individuals based on race, color, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation and promotes differential or preferential treatment based on such classification.

More on DEI law:DeSantis signs bill banning funding for college diversity programs

However, colleges and universities can still allocate funds for student-led organizations, even if those organizations engage in speech or activities that potentially breach the DEI rule.

During the meeting, Chair Ben Gibson expressed his views on DEI, stating that it is a disguise for discrimination, exclusion, and indoctrination. He emphasized that such practices have no place in Florida’s state colleges, which should be solely focused on learning without any form of discrimination.

Florida Board of Education Chair Ben Gibson.

Moreover, the regulation concerning the sociology course comes after Education Commissioner Diaz proposed the removal of “Principles of Sociology” from the state’s core courses for general education requirements during a November meeting. As a result, sociology will no longer be included in the core course options but instead be replaced by “Introduction to Geology” and “Introduction to Oceanography” as new options in the natural sciences category, and “Introductory Survey to 1877” in the social science subject area.

The new social science core course option will cover American history from colonial beginnings to 1877.

Although sociology department leaders across the state expressed their disapproval of this change, stating that it would impoverish the curriculum, Florida College System Chancellor Kathryn Hebda defended the decision, highlighting the comprehensive coverage of American history in the new course.

More:Florida faculty ‘strongly object’ to removal of sociology from core college courses list

Hebda also clarified that although the sociology course is no longer included in the core course options, students can still choose to enroll in it if they are interested.

Commissioner Diaz emphasized that students should focus on learning the truth about the country rather than being influenced by what he refers to as “woke ideologies” in college classrooms.

Students walk on Tallahassee Community College's campus.

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