Instructor Guidance on HB 7
TO: Faculty and Instructors
FROM: Janet Kistner, Office of Faculty Development & Advancement
RE: HB 7
HB 7 refers to a bill, passed earlier this year, that amended a Florida nondiscrimination statute (FL Statute 1000.05, Florida Educational Equity Act). A workgroup of colleagues in the General Counsel’s Office, Academic Affairs, and Human Resources have done a deep dive into the statute to understand its implications for those who teach or provide mandatory training sessions at FSU. I focus here on the implications for instructional activities.
The statute prohibits instruction that “espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels” students to believe any of eight “specified concepts” (each based on race, color, sex, or national origin) because such action would be per se discriminatory under the amended statute. The statute requires each university in the SUS to create a regulation to implement the statute. FSU’s regulation is in draft form until it is reviewed and approved by our Board of Trustees in an upcoming meeting.
Importantly, this statute does not prevent discussion of controversial subject matter, nor does it remove or override instructors’ freedom to determine what and how they teach. FSU is committed to academic freedom and the responsibility that comes with it. Fulfilling that responsibility requires that instructors be free in the classroom to discuss academic subjects in a manner that reflects the scholarly standards of their disciplines. Some of the academic subjects our instructors teach are controversial, and perhaps difficult and painful for some students. The heart of the educational enterprise is to prepare students for the challenges they will face in their lives and occupations. Civil dialogue, respect for others, and openness to new ideas are all skills that will prepare students to thrive and flourish. We have complete confidence that our instructors know how to apply the highest pedagogical standards as they strive to teach critical thinking skills to our students.
More information about this statute and its implementation, including FAQs, is available on the OFDA website.