Media Contact

MEDIA CONTACT: ACLU Media Office,, 786-363-2737

March 14, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, FL — The Postsecondary Education and Workforce Subcommittee voted Monday to advance House Bill 999 (HB 999). The new bill targets academic freedom in higher education one year after the passage of the unconstitutional Stop W.O.K.E. Act, which was blocked by a federal court in November 2022 following a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Florida, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF), and Ballard Spahr on behalf of seven educators and one student.

House Bill (HB) 999 would enact draconian restrictions to prevent students from choosing to major and minor in fields of study involving race and gender—subjects with which Gov. DeSantis takes issue. The bill puts the hiring of faculty and review of tenure at any time for any reason in the hands of political appointees. It also prohibits university spending on activities, speakers, events, and clubs if the funds will promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, threatening groups like historically Black sororities and fraternities and veterans’ services.

The ACLU of Florida opposes this bill and its companion bill Senate Bill 266.

Jerry Edwards, staff attorney at the ACLU of Florida, responded with the following: 

“A federal judge has already acknowledged that Gov. DeSantis’ legislative attacks on higher education are ‘positively dystopian.’ As with the Stop W.O.K.E. Act, this is another poorly thought-out bill born of personal animus that will cause confusion, lead to brain drain on our campuses, and chill free speech rights in the classroom.

“Florida, like many states, is in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. Residents are worried about rent prices, property insurance, healthcare costs, and other very immediate issues affecting their wallets. While residents are calling out for help, the governor is more concerned about using the law to require strict adherence to white-washed views of history and make critical thinking and open inquiry in education illegal.”