A publisher removed references to Rosa Parks' race in a draft of its textbook to comply with Florida's laws, NYT reports

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  • A publisher removed references to Rosa Parks' race in a draft of a Florida textbook.

  • Studies Weekly changed the language to comply with the Stop Woke Act, The New York Times reported.

  • The publisher also removed references to race in a Civil War lesson.

A science and social studies-focused textbook publisher used in 45,000 Florida schools initially removed all references in a draft lesson on Rosa Parks' race in order to comply with Florida's Stop WOKE Act, The New York Times reported.

Studies Weekly created a version of its lesson on Parks for first graders for the state's review of social studies curriculum. This version regarding Parks — the Black woman who refused to give up her bus seat to a white man — does not explicitly mention that she was Black, according to the Times. Instead, the publisher writes that she was told to move "because of the color of her skin."

A second version goes even further, failing to mention race at all.

"She was told to move to a different seat. She did not. She did what she believed was right," the textbook passage read, according to the Times.

Another example from the same publisher, provided by the Times, shows a fourth-grade lesson about the Civil War, which removed language saying Black people were discriminated against under "Black codes," a series of laws created after the Civil War to restrict freedoms of Black people, instead opting for language like "certain groups."

According to the Times, the current lessons used in Florida classrooms do mention segregation and references to race. The Times reported that it was unclear whether or not these versions without mentions of race were submitted for review. The publisher told the Times that it withdrew from the state's review.

John McCurdy, chief executive of Studies Weekly, told the Times that the changes were made to comply with the Stop WOKE Act, a law signed and endorsed by Governor Ron DeSantis that limits how schools and workplaces discuss issues of race and gender.

The Florida Department of Education said in a statement to Insider that the state encouraged instruction on Parks and other Civil Rights Movement leaders, per state law.

"It would be impossible to teach about the significance of Rosa Parks without discussing her race," the statement read. "Any publisher who attempts to avoid the topic of race when discussing Rosa Parks or topics such as the Civil Rights Movement, slavery, segregation, etc. would not be adhering to Florida law."

In a press statement from Studies Weekly following the release of the Times story, the publisher said that the state provided no guidance as to how they should interpret the laws, but stated that "individuals in our curriculum team severely overreacted in their interpretation of HB 7 and made unapproved revisions."

DeSantis signed into law the Stop Woke Act and the Don't Say Gay Act in 2022. These laws have resulted in the removal of thousands of books not approved by the state from school classrooms and the blocking of high schools from teaching AP African American studies. The FDOE has also amended the Stop Woke Act to ban critical race theory from being taught in schools.

Studies Weekly did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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