HB 7 continues to be a flash point

Photo of Florida Gov. DeSantis courtesy tampabay.com

House Bill 7 was signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis last March to provide businesses, workers and students with the resources they need to combat prejudice and so-called woke indoctrination. According to DeSantis, this legislation will help children and teachers so they do not feel bad about historical experiences. One of the goals, the governor said, is to prevent young students from feeling uncomfortable.

HB 7, known by some as the Parental Rights Act and by others as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, went into effect on July 1, 2022, and it has had a profound impact on some educators.

“My teachers are really holding back a lot of information,” said Shontae Day, a student at Florida A&M University. “I believe they are just protecting their jobs, in which I understand.”

This bill prohibits teachers from discussing specific racial issues with students, which some claim will severely restrict education in Florida schools.

Given that they attend a historically Black university, FAMU  students are unsure about what will happen next and how their instructors will respond when teaching courses involving race.

Students on campus are in agreement that certain teachers are monitoring how they talk to their students about particular subjects and are even using HB 7 as an excuse for why they can’t bring up certain issues.

“They conceal the facts in order to feel comfortable, but the reality is that we were never given the chance to do so,” Jelani Bland, a FAMU student, said. “We’ve seen history repeat itself before, and this can’t happen again.”

Since the law went into effect in July, activists, students and parents have been protesting against DeSantis to raise awareness of what they see as a racist decision to take African American history away from schools without a choice. There have been numerous tweets calling  DeSantis a racist tyrant who wants to run the entire educational system and shape people’s opinions. Floridians from all kinds of backgrounds have joined together to battle this systemic issue, and they say they aren’t giving up.

“We have the potential of raising an entire generation of Black children who will not be able to see themselves represented in their own state or in their education,” tweeted state Sen. Shevrin Jones, a graduate of FAMU. “Our history IS America’s history, and we have ALWAYS been of value to this country. We reject this erasure of our story, so we’re standing up and pushing back.”

DeSantis is not stopping here. He has taken action to eliminate African American AP courses from being offered in the school system under the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act” and to no longer permit these courses as an option.