The Black Lives Matter movement, Black feminist literary thought, Black queer studies, and slavery reparations are no longer subjects to be taught in Advanced Placement classes nationwide.
On Wednesday, days after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced plans to defund diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at every public college in the state, and on the first day of Black History Month, the College Board stripped down its Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum for African American studies.
Previously, the DeSantis administration had written a letter to the College Board, the non-profit which oversees the course, claiming the class is “contrary to Florida law” and “significantly lacks educational value.” At a press conference, the governor called it “a political agenda.”
The curriculum covers the African diaspora, slavery, reconstruction, Black politics, Black Power and Black women’s voices. However, Black queer studies, the Black Lives Matter movement, Black feminist literary thought, and slavery reparations are no longer subjects to be taught. At the same time, Black conservatism is now offered as an idea for a research project.
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“Now who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory?” asked DeSantis during a press conference.
Last year, the Republican governor signed into law the controversial “Parental Rights in Education” bill, what opponents call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans public school teachers in Florida from holding classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity.
A Veto on Intersectionality
DeSantis also blasted the course for having a section on intersectionality, a term which refers to the way in which race, gender, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation interact to create systems of oppression, domination, and discrimination.
After the push-back from the Florida governor and other conservatives around the nation, including publications like The Florida Standard and National Review, changes were made to the class that is currently being tested at 60 schools around the US. Still, some claim it is unclear how much of what was excluded from the final curriculum came as the result of the DeSantis administration’s critiques.
History Should Not Be Erased
“To wake up on the first day of Black History Month to news of white men in positions of privilege horse trading essential and inextricably linked parts of Black History, which is American history, is infuriating,” said David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, adding that “the lives, contributions, and stories of Black trans, queer, and non-binary/non-conforming people matter and should not be diminished or erased.”
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In Florida, the city of Miramar denounced the ban on the AP course for high school students.
“Many African Americans […] would like to learn about the African American experience and don’t have that option as it stands right now,” said Mayor Wayne Messam, expressing his hope that other cities will join in denouncing the governor’s actions.
On Wednesday a spokesperson for DeSantis said the state education department is reviewing the revised curriculum for compliance with Florida law.