School district orders removal of all books with gay characters before slightly backing off
Image via AP.

Parental Rights in Education DeSantis AP
The Charlotte County School District’s policy remains one of the more stringent policies adopted to reflect Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act.

Top officials at a Florida school district ordered the removal of all books and material containing LBGTQ+ characters and themes from classrooms and campus libraries, saying that was needed to conform to a state law backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.”

Charlotte County Schools Superintendent Mark Vianello and the School Board’s attorney, Michael McKinley, were responding to questions from the district’s librarians at a July meeting asking whether the bill, officially the “Florida Parental Rights in Education Act,” required the removal of any books that simply had a gay character but no explicit sex scenes.

“Books with LBGTQ+ characters are not to be included in classroom libraries or school library media centers,” the pair responded, according to a district memo obtained under a public information request by the Florida Freedom to Read Project. The nonprofit group, which opposes the law, provided the memo to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The district later backed off a bit, allowing some exceptions for high school libraries. But Charlotte’s policy remains one of the more stringent policies adopted by the state’s 67 countywide school districts to enforce the bill.

The law was originally passed by the Legislature, signed by DeSantis in 2022, and strengthened last spring. The southwest Florida county between Fort Myers and Sarasota has about 17,000 students in its public schools. The Republican Governor, who is running for his party’s presidential nomination, won the county with 70% of the vote in 2022 as he cruised to reelection.

The school district did not respond to calls Wednesday from the AP seeking comment. The district told the news website Popular Information, which first reported the memo, that the document is not a verbatim transcript of the meeting but it is an accurate reflection.

DeSantis and other Republicans have repeatedly said the measure is reasonable and that parents, not teachers, should be broaching subjects of sexual orientation and gender identity with their children. The Governor has made cultural issues a major point of his presidential campaign, even taking on The Walt Disney Co. after it expressed opposition to the bill.

Florida Freedom to Read said Charlotte’s policy is “evidence that fear over thoughtful decision-making is winning the day.” But the group says Florida Department of Education officials are to blame for any district confusion or overreach.

“Their failure to lead and use their power to benefit the future of Florida is a disservice to all Floridians, no matter their political leanings,” the group said. “Parents want politics out of education. We want all students to feel safe and included so they can focus on their education while in school. Removing all representation of LGBTQ+ people in literature goes against our very principles of living in a free and just, pluralistic society.”

The department did not respond to a call and email on Wednesday seeking comment.

At the July meeting, librarians were told by Vianello and McKinley that any mention of sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited from prekindergarten through middle school and in high school “unless supported by the state academic standards.”

The librarians asked if that meant they had to remove a book even if, for example, it includes a secondary character who is gay or a main character with two moms or a gay best friend. The pair responded, “Yes,” and added that the ban includes books children may bring to school themselves, even if they are not pornographic or explicit.

“These characters and themes cannot exist,” they responded, according to the memo.

The school district issued a statement to Popular Information this week clarifying some of the superintendent and attorney’s remarks, saying some material with LGBTQ+ themes or characters would still be available in high school libraries.

“Books featuring LGBTQ characters are accessible in the media center for grades 9-12. While they may not be utilized for classroom instruction, these books are available for individual study and can be borrowed by students,” the statement said.


Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • PeterH

    September 28, 2023 at 11:55 am

    Banning books will not stop unsuspecting parents from giving birth to gay, lesbian and transgender children.

    Banning books creates an atmosphere of government endorsed bullying!

    • Earl Pitts American

      September 29, 2023 at 10:37 am

      Good mornting Americs,
      I, Earl Pitts American, was aware of a growing trend of dangerous Dook 4 Brains Leftist political influnce up in Charlotte County. This is the tipping point and we are going to have to send in a few of our “Fast Response” Dook 4 Brains Leftist Management Teams a little sooner than anticipated.
      So Charlotte Patriots:
      Relax your sphincters sweet political relief is on the way in the form of 2 fast response management teams.
      Typically we can turn around an out of control Dook 4 Brains political eruption like Charlotte’s in 2 months time.
      So just bear with my cleanup teams good citizens of Charlotte County secure in the knowledge you will all be singing praises to Earl Pitts American while celebrating your Christmas Hollidays with family and friends in a total Dook 4 Brains Leftist free political enviornment.

    • TJC

      September 30, 2023 at 2:22 pm

      It has been noted that among GOP culture warrior politicians — whose priorities are book bans and limiting the rights of minorities — it takes a family member dying from cancer to get that politician to seek more funds for cancer research, it takes a family member suffering from gun violence to get that politician to consider gun control, it takes a family member’s death from Covid-19 to get that politician to endorse vaccinations, etc. So it takes a jolt of reality to get that politician to seek real world solutions to real world problems. And since, as you say, no one knows what their offspring’s sexual orientation will turn out to be, it will probably take the revelation of a son’s or daughter’s sexual orientation to get that politician to consider the humanity and human rights of all citizens, not just the “straight” citizens.

  • JD

    September 28, 2023 at 12:05 pm

    This law was a sham from get-go, a stepping stone for DeSantis for the primaries as a culture war salvo.

    The books everyone is saying are pornographic were only two. The rest were innocuous or age appropriate.

    One was with a girl pondering about letting a boy touch her inappropriately and the peer pressure associated – a real thing in high schools, and if there is a safe place to explore that peer pressure it’s probably books.

    The other probably should have been removed, with the depiction of a lewd act, but that’s probably going on in high schools as well. How’s that not brought up in sex ed anyway?

    But instead of focusing on those few books and removing them, they instead created a mechanism to have anyone remove any book by not creating a step-by-step vetting, review, and rejection / acceptance process. Likewise, they didn’t create one for the original vetting of the books to land on the shelves in the first place or addressing how they got there.

    Again – culture war for a stepping stone and an ICBM to kill a cockroach response.

    • Rick Whitaker

      September 29, 2023 at 9:55 pm

      it’a christian thing. thank mother nature i’m not a christian. i just can’t bring myself to want to control other people. it’a christian thing.

      • Joe

        October 1, 2023 at 10:44 am

        It’s a Nazi thing.

        • Rick Whitaker

          October 1, 2023 at 2:29 pm

          i read about the nazi and Italian mingling with the catholic church during ww2. there was a lot of it.. so it’s a christian and nazi thing.

  • Roberts Diane

    September 28, 2023 at 1:00 pm

    We are not banning books we are removing inappropriate books. If you want your children to read these books you can check them out at your library or online. Ou c hildren have to learn to read , write and math.

    • PeterH

      September 28, 2023 at 2:03 pm

      False. You’re not simply removing books with inappropriate content. Your policies are aligned with a similar social engineering narrative implemented in 1938 Nazi Germany that banned modernism, Jewish artwork, and literature . You have absolutely no right or authority to determine that gay characters in books are “inappropriate!”

    • Bwj

      September 28, 2023 at 5:28 pm

      No, you’re banning books. Your right to control what your child reads extends as far as your child. It doesn’t include my child or the neighbor’s.

    • Silly Wabbit

      September 30, 2023 at 2:03 pm

      Diane kwazy.

    • Silly Wabbit

      September 30, 2023 at 2:24 pm

      Diane inappwopwiate.

    • Silly Wabbit

      September 30, 2023 at 2:32 pm

      Ban Diane.

    • Joe

      October 1, 2023 at 10:48 am

      Here’s one obvious fact about Roberts Diane: she does not have school age children in any of the Florida schools where she is “removing” books. Grandma Diane just follows her marching orders from Fox News and Karens for Unliberty.

  • My Take

    September 28, 2023 at 3:20 pm

    Today’s conservatism — driven by hate.
    Today’s America — riven by hate.

  • Rick Whitaker

    September 28, 2023 at 6:15 pm

    if you want a curious kid ,most are, to not read a book, then ban it.

    • Silly Wabbit

      September 30, 2023 at 2:26 pm

      Vewy twue.

    • Silly Wabbit

      September 30, 2023 at 2:28 pm

      Wick good.

  • Dont Say FLA

    September 30, 2023 at 5:50 pm

    A “book” with gay characters is just a book. Any book. Any character in any book that doesn’t state their cisness has a 10%+ chance of being gay. Therefore any book with 10 or more characters will have a gay character. Even the book o’ Christian bbooks with gay characters, aka the bible, has gay characters and the bible gays are explicitly gay. These folks are banning the Christian bible, of course. Right?

    • Rick Whitaker

      September 30, 2023 at 8:18 pm

      when i was a kid the first james bond book came out, we had to sneak around to read it. i never liked the bible. i saw it as a pack of lies that was impossible to read and one page contradicted the other. when i heard that christians killed the american indians and justified it by calling them heathens, i had no use for anything christian. that was 60 years ago and i have enjoyed having an open mind ever since.

Comments are closed.


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