Florida Lawmakers Approve Bill Barring Colleges, Universities From Spending Money On Diversity, Equity And Inclusion

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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Florida lawmakers approved a bill that will prohibit public colleges and universities from spending state or federal money on programs that advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).

The state House of Representatives approved the bill on Wednesday in a 81-34 vote after it cleared the state Senate 27-12 on April 28, according to the Senate website. The bill now heads to Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for final approval. (RELATED: Bill To Ban ‘Political Loyalty Tests’ At Colleges And Universities Heads To DeSantis’ Desk)

The bill prohibits public higher education institutions from spending taxpayer money on programs or activities that peddle DEI or “promote or engage in political or social activism,” its text reads. Lawmakers debated the importance of DEI programs on college campuses on Wednesday, with Democratic state Rep. Dianne Hart arguing that “whenever people shield their children from the truth, a generation of ignorance is born,” the Miami Herald reported.

Republican state Rep. Alex Andrade, the House bill’s sponsor, argued that DEI initiatives do not benefit students or institutions, according to the Herald.

“DEI’s intellectual fragility makes campuses less safe, less intelligent and less free for the students who should be learning to think for themselves,” he said.

DeSantis advocated for defunding DEI programs on numerous occasions throughout the year. He pledged to defund DEI programs during a January press conference addressing several higher education reforms on his agenda, and held a roundtable titled “Exposing The DEI Scam” in March.

Florida’s Office of Budget and Policy requested public colleges and universities report how much money they spend on DEI initiatives in December. The report revealed that the universities spent approximately $28 million in the 2022-2023 budget which included $15 million in state funds.

The bill includes a number of additional higher education reforms including tasking the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors of the state university system with creating a faculty committee to review general education courses, the text reads. The courses cannot “distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics … or is based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent  in the institution of the United States and were made to maintain social, political, and economic inequities.”

DeSantis, Hart and Andrade did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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