“Make America Florida” is a new expression that has swept the nation as Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis has gained national attention in his run for the 2024 presidential election. DeSantis has come to stand for modern far-right ideals and has intentionally fueled Florida’s culture war.
DeSantis’ policies in Florida are strict, especially his laws regarding gender expression and education. The Floridian governor has greatly impacted school systems, infringing on students’ gender expression and controlling language used to teach historical race issues, specifically slavery. According to NPR, DeSantis signed a law which bans gender-affirming care for minors, restrictions on the discussion and use of “preferred pronouns” in schools and restrictions on using bathrooms that don’t match one’s assigned sex at birth. This law further led to unresolved rumblings of banning the popular AP psychology course due to the fact that the curriculum explores issues of gender and sexuality.
The Associated Press News reports that the public school curriculum is forced to become increasingly “anti-woke.” Woke ideologies pertain to the systemic inequalities in American society, such as racism and homophobia. Conversely, anti-woke ideologies push the notion that systemic social issues are not relevant enough to be taught in schools.
In July, the Department of Education passed new curriculum standards requiring middle school teachers to teach their students that enslaved people “developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
Since 2000, Louisiana has consistently chosen Republican candidates in presidential primaries. DeSantis has become a dominating voice in culture wars, or the Anti-Civil Rights Movement era, and his message of anti-woke education seems to be resonating with Louisiana voters and representatives. In March of 2022, Louisiana representative Dodie Horton proposed a bill coined “Don’t Say Anything,” following Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Rep. Horton told Forbes. If enacted, the proposed bill would effectively silence all discussion of gender and sexuality in order to prevent the “indoctrination” of young children. This bill has been disguised to not appear to target the LGBTQ+ community. However, the word ‘indoctrination’ relates directly to the Republican idea that queer and specifically trans individuals are known to groom children; an accusation that is yet to be supported by fact.
In May of 2023, to much relief, the Louisiana’s democratic governor John Bel Edwards vetoed not only the “Don’t Say Anything” bill but also two others that targeted the LGBTQ+ community: one that would ban gender-affirming healthcare to minors and another that would restrict children from using preferred names and pronouns in school. Louisiana voters who support the LGBTQ+ community are fearful that existing protections may not prove permanent in the predominantly conservative voting state.
Additionally, Florida banned the discussion of critical race theory in public schools in June of 2021, with the language revolving around slavery officially changed in July of 2023. This past April, Louisiania Republican officials requested lawmakers to ban the study of racism at universities, claiming that the “inglorious aspects” of American history were too divisive, according to Nola.com. The bill was later killed in Congress.
In order to keep the fanatical “Florida man” and all his discrimination out of Louisiana, it is vital to vote inclusive representatives into office who accurately reflect the needs of everyone.
Furthermore, it is important to educate oneself on topics that are heavily under debate, such as critical race theory, gender-affirming care, and the realities and legacies of slavery, in order to remain open-minded and conscious of others’ experiences, even if our ‘representatives’ are not.