Anti-DEI Legislation in Florida

In October 2023, APS, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the National Society of Black Physicists partnered to organize informational webinars on state-level anti-Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) legislation. Two webinars were presented: this webinar on Florida and another on legislation across the country. Each webinar featured an expert guest speaker who provided reference materials to supplement their presentations.

Guest Speaker

Professor Katheryn Russell-Brown is affiliated with the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where she is the Levin, Mabie & Levin Professor of Law and director of the Race and Crime Center for Justice. Russell-Brown received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley; her law degree from the University of California, Hastings; and her PhD in criminology from the University of Maryland. She teaches, researches, and writes on issues of race and crime and the sociology of law. Late last year, she published a paper on Florida bill HB7, the Stop WOKE Act, and its impacts on the higher education classroom.

SB 266: Florida's New Anti-DEI Legislation Webinar Resources

The material provided in this document does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. All the cited information and materials are for general informational purposes only. Please note, this information may not constitute the most recent legal or legislative decision.

Overview of SB 266 Legislation

Florida’s Senate Bill 266 became law on July 1, 2023. The law is titled “Postsecondary Educational Institutions.” This law is sometimes referred to as Florida’s “anti-DEI” legislation. Below is a summary of the law’s sections that address limits on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and limits on curriculum instruction in university courses.

Anti-DEI aspects of this law include the following:

  • No state or federal dollars can be used to “promote, support or maintain any programs or campus activities,” that advocate for DEI.
  • SB 266 applies to Florida public post-secondary institutions, universities, and colleges, including those within the Florida College System.

However, the law provides some exceptions:

  • Student fees and university facilities can be used to support student-led organizations (this includes race and gender-based groups).
  • SB 266 does not prohibit programs, campus activities, or functions for military veterans, Pell Grant recipients, first generation college students, nontraditional students, students from low-income families, or students with unique abilities.

Curriculum & Instruction

SB 266 focuses on “general education core courses.” The law bans a range of subjects and perspectives:

  • Bans courses that distort “significant historical events”
  • Bans curriculum that teaches “identity politics”
  • Bans curriculum based on “theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, or privilege are inherent” in US institutions and “were created to maintain social, political, or economic inequities”
  • Bans courses that “advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion”
  • Bans courses that “promote or engage in political or social activism”
  • Says that courses with curriculum based on “unproven, disproven, speculative, or exploratory content” are best suited for electives or prerequisites for specific programs

SB 266 focuses on college-level activities and instruction, not K-12.. As to curriculum and instruction, the primary focus of SB 266 is “general education” (lower-level, non-elective, non-major-specific courses).

It is unclear whether SB 266 extends to graduate and professional schools’ curriculum and instruction.

Questions, Concerns, & Notes

To date, the Florida Board of Governors has not yet provided explanations of key terms used in SB 266. Words, terms, and concepts, such as “diversity, equity and inclusion,” “identity politics,” “political or social activism,” and "significant historical events,” are neither defined nor explained.

Constitutional challenges have been raised to SB 266, including free speech, due process, and equal protection. See New College of Florida, Freedom, Inc. v. Manny Diaz, Jr. (2023).

Strategic Responses

Here are some potential strategies instructors and administrators might consider as they determine how to respond to SB 266:

  • When planning programs or activities, present your idea in writing to the department chair/dean. Explain how your proposal complies with SB 266.
  • Request guidance from university administrators (e.g., syllabi, programming, etc.).
  • Use existing programming at your institution as a guide.
  • Let colleagues know about programming and curriculum planned in response to SB 266.

General Resources

If you are interested in reading further about SB 266 and DEI-related issues, these resources can provide additional details and information.

National Tracking of Anti-DEI Legislation

  • The Chronicle of Higher Education provides a DEI Legislation Tracker that monitors anti-DEI legislation that would affect higher education.
  • PEN America, an organization that protects free expression, describes the impact of SB226 in the article “More than Meets the DEI,” published May 25, 2023.


Academic Freedom

  • The United Faculty of Florida and University of Florida Board of Trustees' collective bargaining agreement addresses academic freedom and responsibilities, including the affirmation that "academic freedom is a right protected by this Agreement in addition to a faculty member’s constitutionally protected freedom of expression and is fundamental to the faculty member’s responsibility to seek and to state truth as he/she sees it."

Responses by Florida Colleges & Universities

Newspaper Articles on SB 266 & Science

  • In a Scientific American article "Florida's Attacks on Education Threaten Science," writers Alyssa Shearer and Alex Music discuss how "laws that gut science classes of social context and inclusive design jeopardize progress towards equitable science."

Law Review Article

More information

Anti-DEI efforts across the United States

Find resources related to APS's webinar about understanding anti-DEI legislation efforts across the country.

View the webinar resources

APS policy & advocacy initiatives

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APS initiatives supporting minorities in physics

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