From outlawing any classes, curriculum, programs, or any mention of diversity, inclusion, and equity to targeting Transpeople and monitoring menstrual cycles, and most recently, a bill proposing that "any bloggers who write about the governor and legislators to register with the state," politicians are transforming Florida into a "laboratory for fascism."
Mandating that curriculum only include the "history and philosophy of Western Civilization" is not a new phenomenon in the Sunshine State, as Princeton historian Tera A. Hunter points out in "The Long History of Conservative Indoctrination in Florida Schools" for The Nation. Hunter attended schools in Florida and explained that there were only two state-wide requirements for graduation: functional literacy and passing a course named "Americanism vs. Communism."
As Hunter explains, "The concept of "Americanism" dates to the colonial era. It's meant to identify the nation's distinctive historical origins and democratic political idioms. Individuals and groups across the political spectrum have marshaled it for varying purposes, including an inclusive vision of citizenship, but also racist anti-immigrant campaigns during the 1920s. Its capaciousness shrunk considerably during the Cold War as political conservatives used it to buttress exclusive ends. The rise of the Soviet Union and the fear of totalitarianism it provoked was an existential crisis that could only be neutered, they believed, with a contrast nationalist creed: Americanism.
Concerned that high school students were vulnerable to a Soviet plot to control the world, the state of Florida designed the course to ensure no teenager be tempted by communism. It defined Americanism as: "the recognition of the truth that the inherent and fundamental rights of man are derived from God and not from governments, societies, dictators, kings or majorities." Americanism was a system that produced higher wages, a higher standard of living, and "greater personal freedoms and liberty than any other system of economics on earth."
The article outlines the legislative process to concretize the indoctrination of students, the role of The Johns Committee created in 1956 to target and expose Communists and then the LGBTQ communities, and the larger context of denying everyone equal civil and human rights.