Women and Gender Studies & Other Minority Studies Programs Set to be on Chopping Block in Florida

Matthew Karovski, Reporter

Over the last couple of years, programs providing perspectives and knowledge in opposition to capitalism, heteronormativity, and nationalism have been catapulted into the depths of partisan politics. While arguments can certainly be made for more traditional approaches such as capitalism and heteronormativity, it is apparent that opposition to either is not only chastised in states like Florida, but also outright restricted and in some cases, criminalized.

Historically, political boogeyman allowed governmental officials to appease a specific political base and gain relentless power, simply by creating the illusion of undesirability, of evilness. The idea of protection from something ‘evil’ is a prerequisite to allowing an official to gain control (in this case, Women & Gender studies is perceived as the ‘evil monster’).

In late February 2023, a Florida representative introduced a bill, known as HB 999, that affects the structure and mechanics of higher education institutions in the state of Florida. While the bill incorporates reasonable guidelines such as the expansion of online programs, it also includes questionable measures.

For instance, HB 999 prohibits the expenditures from promoting or supporting any campus programs “that espouse diversity, equity, and inclusion or Critical Race Theory rhetoric.” While folks may express different views related to the concepts, outright restricting the concepts does not progress the total knowledge of society; it limits knowledge.

Additionally, HB 999 includes, “The board shall periodically review the mission of each constituent university…. provide direction to each constituent university on removing from its programs any major or minor in Critical Race Theory, Gender Studies, or Intersectionality, or any derivative major or minor of these belief systems.” This clearly expresses the intention of removing Gender studies programs, among other programs focusing on race and intersectionality (n.b.: intersectionality is defined as the interconnectedness nature of social categories such as class, race, and gender).

The bill emphasizes a strong emphasis on American History and civic education, both of which are excellent facets of an individual’s education. However, while a strong focus on the United States is great, failing to look beyond the singular perspective sets the stage for an inability to successfully function in a pluralistic society.

Finally, HB 999 expresses the fact that institutional goals should include, “Model civic discourse that recognizes the importance of viewpoint diversity, intellectual rigor, and an evidence-based approach to history.” Given that programs interfering with the singular narrative may be restricted or banned, experiencing diverse thoughts as well as a rigorous exploration of history and society is simply not possible. Civic discourse requires multiple views and perspectives, from a variety of lenses (e.g.: more traditional, more progressive, etc.).

On a final note, can anyone even define ‘evidence-based approach to history’?

To read the Florida HB 999, please follow this link:

Censorship: The suppression or removal of written or oral material considered to be
politically unacceptable.
Indoctrination: the process of providing unchecked instruction regarding one specific
view, with no room for opposition.