New law requires AAPI history lessons in Florida classrooms

Curriculum will be introduced in public schools in 3-5 years, according to Mimi Chan

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – After a two-year effort by Make Us Visible Florida, Asian American Pacific Islander history will now be a required part of the curriculum in Florida public schools.

Local high school student Jake Leaf said until recently, he didn’t really notice the lack of AAPI lessons in the classroom.

“Growing up, I didn’t get to learn a lot about my culture, being half-Chinese,” Leaf said.

He said most of the knowledge he does have of his culture comes from his family and friends.

[RELATED: Orange County leader takes to Tallahassee to fight for inclusion of AAPI history in schools]

“A lot of my exposure came from people like my grandma or from Sifu Mimi and the Wah Lum Temple,” Leaf said. “So, I think it’ll be really cool that people like me will be able to get that chance to have exposure to their culture.”

But now, that will change since Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law HB 1537, which requires the instruction of AAPI history in Florida public schools.

While Leaf may not be around to see the lessons in the classroom, he said he’s still excited for future generations.

“I’m excited for people like my little sister and people like that to just learn more about Asian culture and have that experience that I wasn’t really able to fully get,” Leaf said. “So, it’ll be really cool that they’re able to experience that.”

Mimi Chan, director of Make Us Visible Florida, worked hard over the years to get this piece of legislation signed into law.

She said growing up and going to school in Florida, she never learned about the civic contributions of Asian Americans.

“Had I seen myself reflected in history and had others been able to learn about the civic contributions, I feel that the feeling of other or the perpetual foreigner syndrome could have been prevented,” Chan said.

Chan said it was all eyes on Florida while this bill made its way through the Legislature.

She said she hopes its passage will set an example for other states to do the same.

“So, I think it’s so positive for so many people, not just here in Florida, but across the nation, to see and and be inspired that AAPI history will be taught and other states should definitely and hopefully will follow.”

Chan said it will take three to five years before the curriculum is introduced into classrooms.

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Emily joined WKMG-TV in November 2022.