Et tu? Hillsborough School Board limits Shakespeare curriculum under ‘Don’t Say Gay’ laws
Banning books is not a good look for Escambia County Schools.

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Even The Bard isn't beyond reproach in Florida.

Students in a Florida school district will be reading only excerpts from William Shakespeare’s plays for class rather than the full texts under redesigned curriculum guides developed, in part, to take into consideration the state’s new law that restricts classroom materials whose content can be deemed sexual.

The changes to the Hillsborough County Public Schools’ curriculum guides were made with Florida’s new legislation limiting classroom materials that “contain pornography or obscene depictions of sexual conduct” in mind. Other reasons included revised state standards and an effort to get students to read a wide variety of books for new state exams, the school district said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.

Several Shakespeare plays use suggestive puns and innuendo, and it is implied that the protagonists have had premarital sex in “Romeo and Juliet.” Shakespeare’s books will be available for checkout at media centers at schools, said the district, which covers the Tampa area.

“First and foremost, we have not excluded Shakespeare from our high school curriculum. Students will still have the physical books to read excerpts in class,” the statement said. “Curriculum guides are continually reviewed and refined throughout the year to align with state standards and current law.”

The decision in Tampa is the latest fallout from laws passed by Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature and championed by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis over the past two years. The first law, dubbed Don’t Say Gay by critics, was passed last year and prohibited classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in lower grades.

The second law passed this year extended the prohibition on gender and sexual orientation discussion to other grades. It also prevents students and teachers from being required to use pronouns that don’t correspond to someone’s biological sex and strengthens the system in which people can lodge challenges against school books. Republican lawmakers said at the time that the bill was intended to shield children from sexualized content.

Underscoring the confusion over what is allowed in schools, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz on Tuesday put “Romeo and Juliet” on his list of books he is recommending that students read in August.

“This month’s book recommendations provide a variety of reading materials that students will find uplifting and will spark a love for literacy,” Diaz said in a statement.

In Lake County, outside Orlando, the school district reversed a decision, made in response to the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, to restrict access to a popular children’s book about a male penguin couple hatching a chick. The School Board of Lake County and Florida education officials last week asked a federal judge to toss out a First Amendment lawsuit that students and the authors of “And Tango Makes Three” filed in June. Their complaint challenged the restrictions and Florida’s new laws.

The lawsuit is moot because age restrictions on “And Tango Makes Three” were lifted following a Florida Department of Education memo that said the new law applied only to classroom instruction and not school libraries, according to motions filed Friday by Florida education officials and school board members.

“And Tango Makes Three” recounts the true story of two male penguins who were devoted to each other at the Central Park Zoo in New York. A zookeeper who saw them building a nest and trying to incubate an egg-shaped rock gave them an egg from a different penguin pair with two eggs after they were having difficulty hatching more than one egg at a time. The chick cared for by the male penguins was named Tango.

The book is listed among the 100 most subjected to censorship efforts over the past decade, as compiled by the American Library Association.

The “Don’t Say Gay” legislation has been at the center of a fight between Disney and DeSantis, who is running to be the 2024 GOP presidential nominee and has made the culture wars a driving force of his campaign. DeSantis and Republican lawmakers took over control of the district governing the area where Walt Disney World is located after Disney publicly opposed the legislation.

The College Board has refused to alter its Advanced Placement psychology course to comply with Florida’s new laws, even though it includes content on gender and sexual orientation. The College Board said last week that it hoped Florida teachers would be able to teach the full course.

With students preparing to return to school this week in many school districts, it remained unclear whether any modifications to the course would be expected to comply with Florida’s rules.

Associated Press


10 comments

  • Ron Forrest Ron

    August 9, 2023 at 12:35 pm

    Image search for Rhonda Santis is killin’ me. I am dyin’ over here.

    LOL @ Rhonda Santis image search!

    • eva

      August 9, 2023 at 2:43 pm

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  • Stake and Shakespeareup

    August 9, 2023 at 12:39 pm

    How embarrassing for the DeSantis campaign.

    Time for another campaign shake up.

    A W.D. Steak & Shakespeare up.

    “Would you like fries with that” shall be Rhonda’s next line.

  • Bwj

    August 9, 2023 at 1:45 pm

    Ugh. Let’s make Florida uneducated.

    • Dont Say FLA

      August 9, 2023 at 2:06 pm

      Make America (censor Shakespeare like) Florida

      What on Earth was Rhonda thinking with the “MAF” slogan and then going and making Florida sadly laughable on purpose?

      It’s like Rhonda wants to lose, because he must want to lose.

      CaCa CaCa Casey must be setting up Rhonda’s big loss so she can be set free of her little Chia Pet and chase bigger game such as the Musk Ox

      LOL @ Rhonda, falling for her campaign strategy for her and her alone to fall up

  • De Fool

    August 9, 2023 at 2:34 pm

    What kind of fool puts himself into positions like this where he empowered local school boards to make him look like the fool that he demonstrably is?

    That takes a special kind of foolishness and/or inexperience. Given Florida’s super majority GOP state government means Ron DeSantis never face any challenges while “governing,” it’s both.

    People are saying Ron DeSantis is an inexperienced, damned fool.

  • Ramon Hernandez

    August 9, 2023 at 3:19 pm

    Stop calling it the don’t say gay law, no such thing.

    • Joe

      August 9, 2023 at 4:51 pm

      Waaaah says the ignorant Desantos shill from his hole in the ground.

      It’s called marketing, and Lil Ronnie’s opponents are just way better at it than Casey and Christine Pushaw.

  • XFl-man

    August 10, 2023 at 9:12 pm

    Most of em can’t read anyway.

  • Kamwick

    August 13, 2023 at 3:00 pm

    I used to feel contempt for the citizens of Florida for backing the regressives each time (being fully aware that MANY voted against it and are now suffering).

    Now I just feel sorry for them all.

    Hope there is a big backlash coming in the future.

Comments are closed.


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