In Florida, the state Board of Education passed new regulations prohibiting public colleges from using public funds for programs and initiatives based on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
As ABC News reports, the Florida Board of Education categorizes such DEI efforts as “any program, campus activity, or policy that classifies individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation and promotes differential or preferential treatment of individuals on the basis of such classification.”
DEI is widely seen as a rebranded and expanded version of affirmative action, which involves race-based admissions and hiring practices in universities, overwhelmingly favoring non-White applicants. While affirmative action, which was struck down by the Supreme Court last year as unconstitutional, focused exclusively on race, DEI also includes diversity along the lines of gender and sexual preference in addition to race.
Supporters of DEI claim that the purpose of DEI is to address past discrimination by boosting black, Hispanic, female, and non-straight applicants and students. Critics point out that, like affirmative action, DEI consistently discriminates against White, male, and straight applicants.
Under the Board of Education’s new restrictions, the Florida College System (FCS) will be forbidden from using either state or federal funds to implement programs that could be considered DEI under the new definition.
The Board’s decision follows a ruling by a judge which blocked a recently-enacted law in Florida serving a similar purpose. The Stop WOKE Act – with WOKE standing for “Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees” – was determined by the judge to be in violation of the First Amendment. The Republican-passed legislation was also described as too vague to be properly enforced. A trial to determine the fate of the law will take place in October of 2024.
Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) has made his fight against “woke” ideology one of the cornerstones of his governorship and his presidential campaign, the latter of which has increasingly proven to be a failure after his distant second-place finish in the Iowa Caucuses on Monday; DeSantis received just 21% to former President Donald Trump’s 51%. DeSantis is also expected to lose the upcoming New Hampshire primary in a landslide to President Trump and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley (R-S.C.), who only narrowly came in third behind DeSantis in Iowa.