Three high school students are planning on suing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis following his administration’s controversial decision to reject a new Advanced Placement course (AP) covering African American studies. The news came only one day after the College Board announced it would revise the course—a stark contrast to the December 2020 law that made Connecticut the first state in the country to require high schools to offer black and Hispanic studies courses.
Although it’s unclear what tweaks will ultimately be made, DeSantis, who said the original coursework “pushed an agenda,” was quick to claim victory. The white politician once described critical race theory as “teaching kids to hate their country,” mirroring a similar push seen by conservative officials across the US.
“By rejecting the African American history pilot programme, Ron DeSantis has clearly demonstrated that he wants to dictate whose history does—and doesn’t—belong,” Democratic state Representative Fentrice Driskell stated at a news conference in Tallahassee, announcing the lawsuit, on Wednesday 25 January 2023.
If DeSantis does not allow the course to be taught in the state, high-profile civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who has previously represented the families of George Floyd and Trayvon Martin, warned that he will be the one filing the lawsuit on behalf of the three lead plaintiffs. That same Wednesday, Crump led a rally inside the Florida Capitol alongside black Democratic state lawmakers to underscore what they say is Florida attempting to whitewash history.
“If the Governor allows the College Board to present AP African American studies in classrooms across the state of Florida, then we will feel no need to file this historic lawsuit,” the attorney told reporters at the Capitol. “However, if he rejects the free flow of ideas and suppresses African American studies, then we’re prepared to take this controversy all the way to the United States Supreme Court.”
While dozens of other states are also currently introducing legislation aiming to limit the teaching of various topics, such as race and American history, in public schools, it should be noted that these bills seem particularly successful in Florida.
It was DeSantis who signed the highly problematic ‘Parental Rights in Education’ bill—which most have since dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill—in March 2022. The legislation essentially prevents public school teachers in Florida from holding classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity. Lovely stuff, right?
Shortly after, DeSantis doubled down, this time with the introduction of the ‘Stop Woke’ Act which set strict limits on how issues involving race may be taught and basically allowed parents to sue teachers and school districts that go against it.
Highlighting just how worrying and dire the state of the US’ current human rights situation is, Driskell ended her Tallahassee news conference with the question: “Are we really okay with Ron DeSantis deciding what’s acceptable for America’s students across the country about Black history?”
In an interview with the Associated Press (AP), California-based obstetrician-gynaecologist (OB-GYN)—a doctor who specialises in women’s health—Doctor Meg Autry urged people to think creatively when it comes to bypassing the US’ recent and highly controversial overturn of Roe v. Wade. Her solution for anyone in the southern states of the country looking to get an abortion without risking getting fined? The creation of a floating abortion clinic in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Moving in federal waters would mean that the boat clinic is out of reach of state laws, which would in turn allow it to offer first trimester surgical abortions and contraception as well as other care. “There’s been an assault on reproductive rights in our country and I’m a lifelong advocate for reproductive health and choice. We have to create options and be thoughtful and creative to help people in restrictive states get the health care they deserve,” Doctor Autry told the AP.
Though only in its fledgling phase, the nonprofit Protecting Reproductive Rights Of Women Endangered by State Statutes (PRROWESS) is currently working to raise money to bring it to fruition. Doctor Autry also added that PRROWESS’ legal team believes there are many federal waters where licensed providers could safely and legally provide abortions out of reach of state laws.
For women located in southern states where the procedures are now illegal, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, going to the coast and boarding a boat may be closer and easier than trying to travel to a state where abortion remains legal, she explained.
“It would also benefit Floridians seeking abortions after their state decided to ban the procedure after 15 weeks unless the life of the parent is in danger,” Futurism added when covering the matter.
PRROWESS is still trying to work out many of the details such as where the boat will launch and how women would get to the ship in the first place. That being said, and as promising as the concept sounds, such floating abortion clinics might run into some issues—given that the Biden White House has rebuffed the idea of using federal lands (and potentially waters by extension) to provide abortions because, according to press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, “it could actually put women and providers at risk” of prosecution.