Florida Has Third Largest Number of Schoolbook Ban Incidents

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CNW- 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 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 Governor 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 involved in their children’s education.

In Central Florida, in a county named Polk, the “The Kite Runner,” a bestseller, is in quarantine.

In Flagler County, in Northeast Florida, “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” has been pulled from school library shelves.

And in Hillsborough County in the Tampa Bay area, “The Bluest Eye” was challenged by a parent who felt the novel’s explicit content was inappropriate for school-aged kids. The author, the late Toni Morrison, a Nobel Prize winner, and a Pulitzer Prize winner.

While some advocates and lawmakers fear more books will be banned or challenged for telling the stories of LGBTQ people and racial minorities, GOP lawmakers are working to make it easier for parents and community members to weigh in and challenge books available for students in school libraries, potentially taking them off the shelves for weeks at a time or permanently.

The report said 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.”

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