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Bill To Protect White People From 'Guilt' About Racist Past Ignites Heated Debate

by : Hannah Smith on :
Bill To Protect White People From 'Guilt' About Racist Past Ignites Heated Debate
Bill To Protect White People From 'Guilt' About Racist Past Ignites Heated Debate (Alamy)

A Florida bill is set to see schools and employers banned from teaching about topics that could cause white people to feel 'guilt' over America's racist history.

The 'Individual Freedom' bill would prohibit training or teaching that could cause people to believe they bear 'responsibility for, or should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of, actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin.'

Under the proposed legislation, employers would not be allowed to require staff to undergo training that promotes certain concepts related to race and racism, while schools would only be allowed to teach about sexism, slavery and racism in an 'age appropriate manner' that did not cause students to 'feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.'

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Anti-critical race theory protesters (Alamy)
Anti-critical race theory protesters (Alamy)

The bill does not explicitly mention critical race theory, but is thought to be part of a push by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to ban the practice in the state, despite it currently not forming part of the public school curriculum.

Critical race theory is a school of academic thought that argues racism is embedded in the history of the United States and its institutions. Over the past year conservatives have seized on the theory as a hot-button issue, claiming it is designed to make white people feel that they are to blame for historical injustice.

However opponents of the proposed Individual Freedom bill, which was approved this week by Florida's Senate Education Committee, have said it could lead to censorship in schools and workplaces.

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'All this legislation is going to do is to promote ignorance of race-related content and other content that children should know about and should have access to,' State Senator Shevrin Jones told the Orlando Sentinel following the vote.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (Alamy)
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (Alamy)
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In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union described the bill as 'a blatant attempt to suppress speech DeSantis and certain legislators do not like,' adding that 'legislators should not interfere with a student or employee’s right to receive an inclusive education just because certain aspects of our history make some people uncomfortable.'

Last month Governor DeSantis introduced his own anti-critical race theory bill, titled the 'Stop W.O.K.E. Act,' which VICE reports would allow parents to sue schools if they discovered they were teaching critical race theory.

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Campaigners have said both bills would likely be subject to legal challenges were they to pass.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah is a London-based journalist covering news and features for UNILAD. She's especially interested in social and political activism and culture.

Topics: News, US News, Racism