'The Stop WOKE Act': HB 7, Race, and Florida's 21st Century Anti-Literacy Campaign

Katheryn Russell-Brown, University of Florida Levin College of Law


Florida’s Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act (Stop WOKE) took effect July 1, 2022. The new law, known as House Bill 7 (HB 7), regulates how race issues can be taught in the K-20 educational system and imposes stiff sanctions for violations. This Article provides an incisive analysis of HB 7, with a particular focus on the law school classroom. It begins with a discussion of anti-literacy laws adopted during slavery and how these laws prohibited enslaved Blacks from learning to read and write. The historical analysis establishes that HB 7 is a modern-day iteration of anti-literacy laws. While early anti-literacy laws prohibited basic literacy, HB 7 prohibits teaching substantive literacy about race. Anti-literacy provides a framework for understanding the breadth and impact of HB 7. The Article investigates HB 7 through two prominent theoretical lenses, racial threat and critical race theory. These analyses predict and explain legislative responses such as HB 7. Through a series of hypotheticals, the far-reaching problems of HB 7 are revealed. This Article establishes the broad powers of HB 7. At full bore, HB 7 will drastically reduce race-related instruction and in doing so, it will likely delegitimize race scholarship and race scholars in the state of Florida.