Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, the House Education and Employment Committee passed House Bill 7 (HB7), a bill that would censor protected speech in classrooms and workplaces. The bill forms part of the nationwide trend attempting to ban teaching inclusive concepts in schools and workplaces, including race and gender discrimination topics. The bill would also allow employees to file discrimination claims against an employer engaging in such training or discussions.

Kirk Bailey, political director at the ACLU of Florida, responded to the committee’s vote with the following statement: 

“The First Amendment protects the right to share ideas, including the right of listeners to receive information and knowledge. The ability to discuss and debate ideas, even those that some may find uncomfortable, is a crucial part of our democracy. However, HB7, and its companion Senate bill, are a clear attempt to censor discussions of systemic racism and oppression in classrooms and workplaces. 

“Under HB 7, educators, students, employees, and all Floridians will suffer the consequences of not being able to teach or learn historical facts regarding the lived experiences of Black people and other marginalized communities in our country. Employee training and classroom lessons that address all aspects of our nation’s history and systemic racism will be banned. Without them, historical erasure is a threat to everyone. It is an overstep of the state’s authority which harms the rights of Floridians’ to have an open and honest dialogue about America’s history. 

“Every Floridian should be taught an accurate view of our nation's history, including the good and the bad. Students, teachers, and employees deserve a free and open exchange about our history and its impact on our communities. 

“Instead of trying to block the free speech of students and employees across the state, lawmakers need to focus on improving the lives of Floridians.”