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Diversity. Equity. Inclusion. That’s what's up for grabs in the latest piece of legislation in Florida targeting education.  

The measure would prevent state colleges and universities from spending any state or federal funds on programs or campus activities that advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, promote or espouse “political or social activism” or give preferential treatment to people based on factors such as race or sex.

Maxx Fenning, president of LGBTQ-advocacy group PRISM and SFGN’s Person of the Year for 2022, criticized the bill.

“Whether you agree with these ideas or not, they are a component of understanding the wide array of views and opinions on issues that affect our daily lives,” Fenning told Orlando Weekly.

DeSantis doesn’t see it that way.

“These bills effectively eliminate DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] and other types of discriminatory programs and activities,” DeSantis said at a news conference. “But it also prohibits soliciting pledges of DEI or CRT [critical race theory] or any political viewpoint that’s a condition of hiring, promotion or admissions.”

According to Orlando Weekly Florida’s 12 universities collectively reported spending more than $34.5 million on programs related to diversity, equity and inclusion. The schools also reported 279 paid positions tied to the initiatives.

HB 999 has already passed the House. It still must pass in the Senate.

The American Historical Association slammed the bill, writing in a statement to CBS, "We express horror [not our usual ‘concern’] at the assumptions that lie at the heart of this bill and its blatant and frontal attack on principles of academic freedom and shared governance central to higher education in the United States. This is not only about Florida. It is about the heart and soul of public higher education in the United States and about the role of history, historians, and historical thinking in the lives of the next generation of Americans.”