Bill pushing freedom from discomforting lessons in classrooms, businesses heads to final House panel

'This bill is white privilege personified and white fragility in legislative form.'

Legislation barring instruction that could cause someone to feel discomfort because of his or her demographics is approaching the end of the House committee process.

The House State Affairs Committee voted 16-8 Tuesday, along party lines, to advance a bill (HB 7) targeting class lessons and corporate trainings that teach cultural guilt, teachings proponents say inserts ideology into history lessons. The legislation, filed in part at Gov. Ron DeSantis’ urging, is Florida Republicans’ effort to quell classroom or corporate training discussions they consider “woke” indoctrinations of cultural guilt or critical race theory.

The House bill, carried by Miami Springs Republican Rep. Bryan Ávila, would prohibit lessons and training which teach that some people are morally superior to members of another race, color, sex or national origin. Additionally, it would ban teachings that an individual is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously. The goal would be to promote objective lessons in classrooms and beyond, Ávila said.

Some movements in education and corporate America threaten to undo progress in achieving equality by asking people to consider themselves as groups, not individuals, as assigning traits and experiences to groups rather than highlighting individual experience, he said.

“These movements confuse and muddle important history and civics lessons that should be taught by imposing ideologies that twist reality and fostering stereotypes that take us backward and not forward,” Ávila said.

In classrooms, enforcement would be placed in the hands of parents who could approach teachers to resolve concerns before filing complaints.

Critics argue the measure could effectively ban certain books, classroom materials or classroom discussions if parents believe the content contains subjective spins on historical facts. Some history lessons can’t be taught without possibly making people feel guilt or discomfort, they asserted.

Critics raised its potential impact on the teaching or discussion of other troubling historical events such as slavery or the Holocaust.

Ávila argued that teachers should stick to the curriculum and err on the side of caution when opining on historical events. That drew complaints from North Miami Democratic Rep. Dotie Joseph, who called erring on the side of caution the definition of a chilling effect — signifying a possible First Amendment violation.

“This bill is white privilege personified and white fragility in legislative form,” Joseph said.

“We need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable through reconciliation rather than through silence and suppression,” she continued.

For Democrats, the effort took on new meaning this weekend after neo-Nazi demonstrations in Orlando Sunday.

“My fear now as a teacher, as I’m teaching about the Holocaust, is that those Nazis who were on that bridge in Orlando, their children, are in my classroom. And now they go home and say, ‘My teacher told me, look what Nazi Germany did, look what Germans did,'” said Weston Democratic Rep. Robin Bartleman.

Joseph and Rep. Daryl Campbell, who is serving his first day in the House, noted Tuesday marks the first day of Black History Month.

“It dawned on me that I am a Black man with locks sitting at this seat, and I don’t recall the last time a Black man with locks was a Representative in the state of Florida,” Campbell said. “It makes me feel quite uncomfortable, sitting here right now.”

The bill also extends the same bans to corporate human resources policies and training to stop what Ávila cited as offensive cultural policies reported for such firms as AT&T, Coca-Cola, CBS, Google, Lockheed Martin and Walt Disney Corp.

To accomplish its goal in the corporate sphere, the bill would expand the Florida Civil Rights Act to consider such teachings as discrimination based on race, color, sex or national origin.

“This bill makes a mockery of the Florida Civil Rights Act, turns it completely upside down,” Orlando Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith said. “It minimizes the seriousness of real complaints of discrimination — someone who was denied a job promotion, someone who was demoted or fired from their job.”

Despite the heated discussions during the meeting, Ávila told members he loved them. He said both parties always agree to come from an objective point of view during political discourse.

“What makes a classroom different? Being objective, being fair, treating each other with respect, that is the American way of life,” Ávila said. “That is what this bill represents.”

The Senate’s version (SB 148) from Republican Sen. Manny Díaz Jr. got through its first committee vote last month after similar contention. Both bills have one more committee stop in their respective chambers. Díaz’s bill next heads to the Senate Rules Committee while Ávila’s bill heads to the House Education and Employment Committee.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • Tas20036

    February 1, 2022 at 2:04 pm

    Does this mean that black people who are uncomfortable with a whitewashed history lesson can sue to have the full history taught?

  • Ron Ogden

    February 1, 2022 at 3:57 pm

    Apparently the Democrats cited believe it is good to teach history in a way that makes white people uncomfortable. I suppose they also believe that it is also good to teach history in a way that makes black people feel uncomfortable–or yellow people or red people or, hell, any green people who might be out there. Right?

    • Concern Citizen

      February 1, 2022 at 5:16 pm

      How is history taught in a way that makes white people feel uncomfortable? is it learning about slavery, discrimination … or just factual black history or objective facts?

  • Tjb

    February 1, 2022 at 6:30 pm

    I am a child of German parents and I felt great discomfort, while I was student in my USA history class, when the teacher spoke about how the USA defeated the Germans in war. Can we stop classes that address Hitler and his failed attempt change the world … I don’t want my children, with German DNA, to be traumatized.
    Thank God, that I woke up and gained the courage to make this comment.

  • ScienceBLVR

    February 1, 2022 at 8:10 pm

    It’s so refreshing to know someone like Brian Avila is ensuring we teachers are not teaching real history with ”discomforting lessons” ..He has a background as an educator, right? An ardent student of history, having gathered the knowledge and expertise to be able to discern and weed out those “bad equality” messages. Pass the delusional theory rabbit holes, please!

  • mmm

    February 3, 2022 at 8:36 am

    History should be taught as fact! it is not about making people uncomfortable, it should just be truthful. We can only learn from the facts not a skewed version in any direction. It is true that white people owned slaves at some point, it is also true that white people were slaves at some point. Same to say that Black people owned slaves in some areas and so on and so forth. The simple truth is we are all humans, all walks of life have great moments and some moments we would like to change, but we can change the future not the past and that includes history that we need the facts in order to learn those life lessons to make better decisions for our future!

Comments are closed.


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