Ron DeSantis condemned for banning African American studies class from Florida high schools

The administration of Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis is being accused of going from ‘Don’t Say Gay’ to ‘Don’t Say Black’ after blocking a high school course on African American history.

The Advance Placement (AP) class, which is offered by the College Board, is currently offered as a pilot in 60 schools across the United States with the aim of expanding through until the 2024-2025 year when all schools can offer it.

However, Florida’s education department has rejected the programme.

In a letter last week, via Associated Press, local education officials said the content of the course was “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value”.

What content was determined objectionable was not explicitly stated.

The letter continued to say that the the department would “always be willing to reopen the discussion” of accepting the course in the future if the College Board “come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content”.

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As highlighted by CNN, the move follows the Ron DeSantis administration enacting a law in 2021 that banned teaching critical race theory, which looks at the history and continued impacts of systemic racism in the US.

In 2022, DeSantis also signed a bill that restricted how schools could talk about race, the outlet reported.

Florida state senator Shevrin Jones, who is Black, pointed out that there are other cultural Advanced Placement classes on offer including European History and Art History as well as Japanese, German, Italian, and Spanish Language and Culture classes.

“It’s crazy how AP African-American studies made the chopping block in FL [Florida],” he tweeted.

In a seperate statement, Jones said DeSantis was “whitewashing” history, which was an “assault on American History and out First Amendment rights”.

“Horrifyingly, it is our vulnerable and underrepresented students who will suffer the most as a result.”

Richie Torres, house representative for New York’s 15th congressional district, labelled it “shocking” and said: “Florida has gone from Don’t Say Gay to Don’t Say Black.”

‘Don’t Say Gay’ has become a byword for Florida’s anti-LGBTQ+ Parental Rights in Education Act, which Ron DeSantis signed into law last year.

The legislation means LGBTQ+ topics can’t be discussed in classrooms by school staff or third parties, between kindergarten and third grade. After that stage, the topics must be “age appropriate” — although the bill does not define what this means.

On the day DeSantis signed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, he said those opposing it supported “injecting woke gender ideology into second grade classrooms” and “sexualising students in kindergarten”.

Other bills like this have since introduced by politicians in other parts of the US, like Texas.

Similar comments were made when he passed the ban on teaching critical race theory.

In a post to Twitter, DeSantis said the ban was about protecting students “from being influenced or indoctrinated to think a certain way” and critical race theory had “no place in Florida schools”.

“Critical Race Theory teaches kids to hate our country and to hate each other.”

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