Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday that the state is blocking a new Advanced Placement course on African American Studies because it included the study of “queer theory” and political movements that advocated for “abolishing prisons.”
“That’s a political agenda,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Jacksonville. “That’s the wrong side of the line for Florida standards. We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don’t believe they should have an agenda imposed on them when you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes.”
DeSantis’ remarks were his first public statements on the state’s rejection of a new proposed AP multidisciplinary study of the African American diaspora that includes literature, the arts, science, politics and geography. The Florida Department of Education informed the College Board of its decision in a January 12 letter that became public last week and drew widespread criticism from Black leaders in Florida and the White House.
The department told CNN on Friday that it had concerns about six topics of study in the year-long course, such as the Movement for Black Lives, Black feminism and reparations. Many of the objections were tied to the inclusion of texts from modern Black thought leaders and history teachers, whose writings the DeSantis administration believes violate state laws. Florida, under DeSantis, banned the teaching of Critical Race Theory and passed new legislation last year barring instruction that suggests anyone is privileged or oppressed based on their race or skin color.
DeSantis at his news conference emphasized that Florida requires the teaching of Black history but the state determined this optional Advanced Placement course violated state law.
“We want to do history, and that’s what our standards for Black history are. It’s just cut and dried history,” DeSantis said. “You learn all the basics you learn about the great figures, and you know, I view it as American history. I don’t view it as separate history. You know, we have history in lots of different shapes and sizes, people that have participated to make the country great, people that have stood up when it wasn’t easy and they all deserve to be taught. But abolishing prisons being taught to high school kids as if that’s somehow a fact? No, no, that’s not appropriate.”