A second antiscience bill in Florida

02.19.2019

Florida's House Bill 855, filed on February 15, 2019, would, if enacted, revise the state's laws concerning public school instructional materials — and possibly affect science education.

The bill would revise a statute that presently requires instructional materials to be "accurate, objective, balanced, noninflammatory, current, [and] free of pornography" to require such materials to be "accurate and factual; provide objective, balanced, and noninflammatory viewpoints on controversial issues; [and] free of pornography."

No definition of "controversial" is provided. But as Brandon Haught of Florida Citizens for Science observed in a February 17, 2019, blog post, the bill's sponsor, Walter Bryan "Mike" Hill (R-District 1) "refused to acknowledge that global warming is a very real threat being caused by humans" when interviewed by Bill Nye for a 2016 documentary.

Also of concern, as Haught notes, are provisions that expand the ability of Floridians to challenge instructional materials to which they take exception. In 2017, as NCSE previously reported, Florida enacted a law that empowered Floridians to challenge instructional materials, and climate change and evolution were clearly among the targets of the new law.

During the 2017-2018 school year, seven counties reported challenges under the law, of which three involved evolution and climate change, according to Education Week (December 7, 2018). None of these three were successful, a result that may have prompted the revisions to the law proposed in HB 855.

In his blog post, Haught described the bill as "a clear and present danger to all of Florida education" and called on concerned Floridians to oppose it.