There have been more than 200 instances of public school districts in Florida banning books since last July, the third highest number of incidents of any state in the U.S., according to a report from an advocacy group for writing professionals.
PEN America said in the report this week that Florida had 204 instances of book banning in seven school districts between July 2021 and March 2022. Only Texas and Pennsylvania had higher numbers.
The school districts were in Brevard, Clay, Flagler, Indian River, Orange, Pinellas and Polk counties.
PEN America also warned that more books could be banned in Florida in the future now that Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed into law a bill that makes it easier for parents to challenge books and instructional materials they don’t approve. Supporters of the legislation says it gives parents more involvement in their children’s education.
The report said that in Orange County, home to Orlando, school leaders pulled books without following their own processes. In nearby Polk County, 16 books were put in “quarantine” while officials decided whether to ban them permanently after a conservative national advocacy group, not a local parent, flagged them as problematic, the report said.
Books banned in Florida school districts, whether permanently or pending review, include Isabel Allende’s “The House of Spirits,” Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Iris Chang’s “The Rape of Nanking,” Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner,” Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” and Toni Morrison’s “Beloved.”
PEN America is made up of novelists, journalists, editors, poets, essayists, playwrights and publishers.
On March 25, DeSantis signed HB 1467, sponsored by Fleming Island Republican Rep. Sam Garrison. The bill sets up new procedures for school districts to review and manage library collections and instructional books, including posting searchable online lists, and public review processes that could lead to books being banned.
Republished with permission from The Associated Press.
April 11, 2022 at 10:05 am
Might be because Florida has a high number of wackos, demagogues and political opportunists .
April 11, 2022 at 11:31 am
Amazing. I read many of these books (Some were not published when I was in school) while I was in middle school and high school. Of course I am a National Merit Scholar and loved reading. I went to a competitive college using several scholarships I won and had a prosperous career.
Too bad Florida has a idiot for a governor who does not want any child to be better prepared for college than he was.
I am horrified that books are banned in Pinellas County. I will be asking many more questions before I vote for the elected officials who are involved in banning books.
Too bad parents in the counties banning books are not interested in their children having academic scholarships to competitive schools. And too bad these parents have so little confidence in their ideas that the only way they can be assured their children will share the ideas of their parents is to keep children from knowing about other ideas.
Banning books is unAmerican. I did not approve when Catholics had lists of banned books and I don’t approve of PEN creating lists of banned books.
Florida’s children cannot be kept ignorant of the ideas in this world; they will not be competitive with the children from countries which encourage analysis and critical thinking skills. Florida’s children will be adults in a world very different than the world is now; our children need to have skills to prosper in that world not in the one which exists today. Shame on everyone involved with banning books.
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