New Teaching Materials Law Proposed in Florida

Silencing Science Tracker

New Teaching Materials Law Proposed in Florida

On February 23, 2017, a bill (CS/CS/HB 989) was introduced in the Florida legislature that would, if enacted, allow any county resident to challenge public schooling materials that they personally find unsuitable or inappropriate. Affidavits filed in support of the bill suggest it will likely be used to challenge science textbooks discussing climate change and evolution. One affidavit objected to “children being taught that global warming is a reality.” Another complained that public schools are pushing “the presentation of evolution as fact with no clarifying [sic] that this is an unproven theory, and that there are other beliefs as to the origin of life.” A backer of CS/CS/HB 989 reportedly said it could be used in conjunction with House Bill 303 and Senate Bill 436, which support discussion of religious beliefs in schools, to undermine the teaching of evolution in Florida.

UpdateOn February 24, 2017, a second bill (SB 1210) identical to HB 989 was introduced in the Florida Senate.

HB 989 was passed by the Florida House of Representatives on April 20, 2017 and by the Senate on May 5, 2017. On June 26, 2017, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed House Bill 989 into law.

In the five months following enactment of House Bill 989, residents filed at least seven complaints, including two that challenge the teaching of evolution and human-driven climate change.

In one complaint, filed with the Nassau County School Board in November 2017, a resident complained about evolution’s prominence in three textbooks. The resident stated: “I’m proposing to the Nassau County Board that we stop the teaching of Darwinian evolution as fact. This matter is of utmost importance to the education of our children. … They do not have the scientific background to challenge this evolutionary teaching. It can crush their faith in the Bible.” The school board voted against the proposal.

In another complaint, filed in Brevard County, residents complained about social studies textbooks that they said “frequently ignore American exceptionalism” and argued that “the books’ assertion that global warming is caused by human activity is ‘blatant indoctrination.”



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