Florida’s Stop WOKE law on hold for universities after federal appeals court ruling

Florida law restricts instruction based on ‘race, color, sex or national origin’

Gov. DeSantis introduces ‘Stop Woke Act’ to keep ‘critical race theory’ out of classrooms

ORLANDO, Fla. – A Florida law that restricts the way race-related issues can be taught in schools will stay on hold for universities for now.

A federal appeals court decided not to grant a stay of injunction for the Stop WOKE Act on Thursday.

The act, a priority for Gov. Ron DeSantis, was put on hold in November after a federal judge found the law violated the First Amendment in a visceral ruling that called the law “positively dystopian.”

The state asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to issue a stay, which would have allowed the law to take effect while the legal battle played out.

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But the three-judge panel denied the state’s request, and did not explain why.

The “Stop Wrongs To Our Kids and Employees Act,” or “Stop WOKE Act” of 2022 states that a curriculum cannot include concepts such as that anyone is “privileged or oppressed” based solely on “their race, color, sex, or national origin” or that anyone is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” by virtue of “their race, color, sex, or national origin.”

The Florida Legislature is teeing up a bill that would remove a slew of diversity, equity and inclusion programs from public universities, after the governor’s office requested a list of DEI programs from the state’s schools. Plaintiffs accused the governor of violating the federal judge’s stay by doing so.

The same federal judge has also blocked workplace bias training provisions in the Stop WOKE Act in a separate lawsuit. In his ruling, U.S. Judge Mark Walker compared Florida to the Upside Down in the TV series “Stranger Things,” saying Florida apparently believed the First Amendment meant “the state may burden speech freely.”

An appeals court ruling in that case is still pending.

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Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.