Florida’s ‘Stop WOKE Act’ signed into law, immediately faces lawsuit

Florida’s governor faces praise and backlash following signing of a law that potentially infringes First Amendment rights


Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel / TNS

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act” late last year and signed the Stop WOKE Act into law on April 22.

Vanessa Moreno, News Editor

Florida became the first state to regulate race and gender discussions in the workplace and schools by signing the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act on April 22. According to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the law will challenge corporate wokeness and critical race theory.

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

According to Florida House Bill 7, the new law seeks to prevent individuals from believing they are superior to others and inherently privileged or oppressed based on race, color, nationality or sex. The law also forbids instruction that would cause psychological distress or guilt because of actions committed in the past by members of the same race, color, nationality or sex.

In particular, DeSantis wants to make sure critical race theory, the study of how race and racism have shaped the United States, has no place in schools.

“In Florida, we are taking a stand against the state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory,” he said. “We won’t allow Florida tax dollars to be spent teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other.”

Several members of DeSantis’s cabinet have expressed their support for the law and believe Florida is protecting its students and employees from indoctrination.

“By signing this legislation, which is the first in the nation to end corporate wokeness and Critical Race Theory in our schools, we are prioritizing education not indoctrination,” Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez said in a news release. “We will always fight to protect our children and parents from this Marxist-inspired curriculum.”

Outside of DeSantis’s supporters, individuals have criticized the Stop WOKE Act as a dangerous law that might be a violation of the First Amendment guaranteeing free speech.

“This dangerous law is part of a nationwide trend to whitewash history and chill free speech in classrooms and workplaces,” American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Amy Turkel said in a statement. “It will infringe on teachers’ and employers’ first Amendment rights and chill their ability to use concepts like systemic racism and gender discrimination to teach about and discuss important American history.”

Minutes after DeSantis signed the law, five individuals—including teachers and students—filed a lawsuit claiming the Stop WOKE Act violates First Amendment rights. The case is currently being handled by Chief Judge Mark Walker, who has previously declared Florida laws unconstitutional.

For now, the Stop WOKE Act is set to go into effect on July 1, officially regulating how schools and businesses educate about race and gender.