Gov. DeSantis: ‘Florida Does Not Ban Books,’ Calls for Streamlining

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Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling for the state legislature to “make necessary adjustments” to streamline parents’ rights to remove books from school libraries, saying that bans have gone too far.

“Over the past year, parents have used their rights to object to pornographic and sexually explicit material they found in school libraries,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We also know that some people have abused this process in an effort to score cheap political points.”

The Florida Freedom to Read Project has tracked book bans by school districts across the state and found that thousands have been pulled from shelves. This includes “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” “Captain Marvel,” “Middlesex,” “Madame Bovary,” “Love in the Time of Cholera,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “The Bluest Eye,” and “The Color Purple.”

Some books have age restrictions, while others are outright banned. Many include LGBTQ characters.

The governor’s office put out a statement to “debunk the false narrative that the state of Florida bans books,” going so far as calling it a “hoax.” Rather, the state has “empowered parents to object to obscene material in the classroom,” the office says, and that bans are handled by individual school districts.

The Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. said that the department’s focus is “academic excellence, not indoctrination.”

PEN America found that over the last two years, Florida and Texas lead the nation in book bans, with the Sunshine State responsible for 34% of books banned in the country. A Miami-Dade County parent went viral on Feb. 12 when he tweeted a permission slip form for his child to participate in a read aloud program for a book written by an African American author.

“Although we like people wanting to be involved in what's going on, to just show up and object to every single book under the sun, that is not an appropriate situation here,” DeSantis said. “You should not be reviewing dictionaries and encyclopedias, and just basic things that have been a part of education for a long time.”

Former FL Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith tweeted that DeSantis has “hero syndrome.”

“[It is] a psychological disorder that causes a person to seek recognition for heroism, especially by creating a harmful situation which they then can resolve. This can include unlawful acts, such as arson. In this case, Ron DeSantis is the arsonist.”


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