State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota: Art Organization Pulls Scheduled Exhibition After School Requests Removal of Pieces with “Offensive” Words


State College of Florida, Manatee–Sarasota

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Case Overview

In early 2022, the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota invited Embracing Our Differences to host an art exhibition on its Bradenton campus. The exhibition was to open in April 2023, but on January 31, Gov. Ron DeSantis held a press conference at SCF Bradenton, announcing funding cuts to diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida institutions. Shortly after, SCF requested that Embracing Our Differences remove three pieces of art containing the words “diversity,” “inclusion,” “justice,” and/or “equality,” claiming they “may have been found offensive and not embraced.” On February 23, FIRE and the National Coalition Against Censorship wrote a joint letter to SCF explaining that it may not censor artistic expression over potential offense. The letter also called for SCF to adopt viewpoint-neutral exhibition review criteria to avoid the risk of censorship in the future.