Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced new legislation on Wednesday to fight what he called "corporate-sanctioned racism" in Florida.
The governor said he is "taking a stand against critical race theory in our schools and in the workplace by calling for the enactment of the Stop W.O.K.E. Act."
The Stop Wrongs Against Our Kids and Employees Act would codify DeSantis' executive orders prohibiting K-12 schools from teaching critical race theory. It would also give parents the right to sue if they believe their kids are being taught critical race theory in schools in violation of the law.
DeSantis said he views "wokeness" as a "form of cultural Marxism" that "is an attempt to really delegitimize our history and delegitimize our institutions," mentioning the removal of statues of Founding Fathers like Thomas Jefferson or George Washington. He cited several examples of critical race theory being implemented throughout the country in both schools and private businesses, such as the Arizona Department of Education creating an "equity toolkit" that stated babies begin exhibiting racist attitudes as early as three months old, or the Santa Clara County, California, Office of Education lecturing teachers that the United States is a white colonialist regime and a "parasitic system," responsible for domestic violence, drug overdoses, and other social problems.
DeSantis claimed that consultants are making a fortune teaching critical race theory to schools and businesses and said his legislation would put a stop to that.
“Our legislation will defund any money for K-12 or higher ed going to CRT consultants,” DeSantis said at a press conference revealing the bill. “We’re also not going to allow the staff or employees or teachers in our education system to be subjected to that type of training where they’re forced to sit there and listen."
The governor also mentioned examples of large corporations using critical race theory in diversity training for employees, like Bank of America telling employees the U.S. is a system of "white supremacy" and that white toddlers "develop racial biases by ages 3-5."
DeSantis said this was "corporate-sanctioned racism" and that the Stop W.O.K.E. Act would protect employees from "harassment" at work.
“Well, how is it not a hostile work environment to be attacking people based on their race or telling them that they’re privileged or that they’re part of oppressive systems, when they’re all they’re doing is showing up to work and trying to earn a living?” he asked.
The governor also drew a distinction between the terms "equality" and "equity." He said equality means people are treated equally, "regardless of your upbringing, regardless of your race, you have the same rights and privileges as anybody else." Whereas "equity" is a term used in critical race theory "to put the thumb on the scale in favor of their ideology," said DeSantis.
“This is something that’s significant, and they tried to act like it’s not happening. And you’ll have media who will say that this doesn’t happen even though we have all these examples. … So it is happening, and I think we have an ability to just draw a line in the sand and say that’s not the type of society that we want here in the state of Florida. We want people treated equally. We don’t want ideology,” DeSantis said.