A bill that would ban public schools and private companies from making white people "feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress" when being taught or trained about discrimination in the nation's past passed out of the State Senate Education Committee on a party-line vote Tuesday, The Associated Press reports. All committee Republicans voted in favor and all Democrats voted against the bill.
The legislation, pushed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), is targeted at, but does not explicitly mention, critical race theory, an academic construct about how racism is embedded in U.S. history. DeSantis called critical race theory "crap" in a news conference last month and vowed to seek legislation that allows Floridians to sue schools or employers that use it in their instruction.
Democrats argue the legislation is a political talking point aimed at a nonexistent problem that will lead to frivolous lawsuits and censorship in schools and businesses. They asked for actual examples of teachers or business leaders telling students or employees they are racist because of their race, and Republicans did not provide any, AP reports.
The bill, called "Individual Freedom," says in part that "an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex. An individual should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race." Its sponsor, state Sen. Manny Diaz (R), insists it isn't about ignoring the "dark" chapters in U.S. history but rather shielding people from blame for past sins.
It's not clear how teachers and businesses can prevent people from feeling discomfort or guilt for past wrongs, especially those whose effects are still tangible today. But presumably that would be worked out in court. Read more at The Associated Press.