Ron DeSantis says African American history course was banned because of content about prisons and ‘queer’ theory

Ron DeSantis pointed to contents concerning prisons and “queer theory” when explaining why an African American history course has been banned in Florida.

The Republican governor criticised the College Board’s Advanced Placement class in African American studies after the pilot course was banned by the state last week.

Mr DeSantis was visiting a charter school in Jacksonville on Monday when he noted the course’s handling of “queer theory”.

He argued that it was on the “wrong side of the line for Florida standards”.

“This course, on Black History, what’s one of the lessons about? Queer theory!” he said, according to Florida Politics.

“Now who would say that an important part of Black History is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids, and so when you look to see they have stuff about intersectionality, abolishing prisons, that’s a political agenda. And so, that’s the wrong side of the line for Florida standards,” the governor added.

“When you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes,” he claimed.

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Last week, Manny Díaz Jr, the Florida Commissioner of Education, took to Twitter to object to topics such as intersectionality, abolishing prisons, and Black Queer Studies.

“Despite the lies from the Biden White House, Florida rejected an AP course filled with Critical Race Theory and other obvious violations of Florida law. We proudly require the teaching of African American history. We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education,” he tweeted. “As we’ve said all along, if College Board decides to revise its course to comply with Florida law, we will come back to the table.”

Mr DeSantis also argued that the topic Movement for Black Lives was political in a way that was unwarranted.

“If you read what’s in there, they advocate abolishing prisons, that’s a radical political position,” he said, adding that people are “free to take that position” but asked, “how is that being taught as fact to be able to do that?”

“I also think that it’s not fair to say somehow that abolishing prisons is somehow linked to (the) Black experience,” he said, adding the African American community wants “law and order, just like anybody else wants law and order”.

“We want to do history, and that’s what our standards for Black history are. It’s just cut-and-dried history,” Mr DeSantis said, according to CNN. “You learn all the basics you learn about the great figures, and you know, I view it as American history. I don’t view it as separate history. You know, we have history in lots of different shapes and sizes, people that have participated to make the country great, people that have stood up when it wasn’t easy and they all deserve to be taught. But abolishing prisons being taught to high school kids as if that’s somehow a fact? No, no, that’s not appropriate.”

Supporters of the course cite the importance of focusing on African American culture, literature, as well as political and social movements.

They also argue that there’s some distance between the work that the course involves and the stern belief by the governor that African American studies can be included in general American history courses.

Florida State Senate Democrat Bobby Powell said the course ban put the governor’s “racial bias on full display”.

Miami-Dade Senator Shevrin Jones said the state was attempting to “tilt the scales and shut down important, much-needed discussions of race, slavery, stolen lands and undeniable history that have led to where we are as a society today”.

Last year the College Board, which administers AP exams, said in a statement: “AP students are not required to feel certain ways about themselves or the course content. AP courses instead develop students’ abilities to assess the credibility of sources, draw conclusions, and make up their own minds.”