News (USA)

Official says Florida “does not ban books” after releasing list of 300 books that have been banned

a stack of five banned library books with caution tape wrapped around them
Photo: Shutterstock

A report from the Florida Department of Education (DOE) has revealed that approximately 300 books were removed from schools across Florida during the 2022-2023 school year. Many of the books included LGBTQ+ content or characters, including This Books is Gay by Juno Dawson, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera, The Family Book by Todd Parr, And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, and Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings.

Despite all of this, Florida DOE spokesperson Caily Myers told NBC News that”Florida does not ban books.”

“The list comprises information provided by each school district of the books they removed based on objections from a parent or resident of the county using their district’s process,” she said.

Nevertheless, many of the books were removed in response to specific Florida laws. Multiple districts said the book removals came as a result of Florida’s Don’t Say Gay Law and Florida House Bill 1467.

The former prohibits class instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, and the latter requires books made available through school libraries and classroom libraries to be selected by a certified media specialist. The law also requires all schools to publish a searchable list of all books in school and classroom libraries, making it easier for parents to challenge books.

As NBC News notes, 21 counties of the state’s 67 removed books last year, with five removing more than 10. The top spot goes to Clay County, which removed a whopping 177 books from school shelves after 489 total objections. District spokesperson Terri Dennis said a single resident was behind about 94% of the challenges.

In addition to LGBTQ+ stories, books about race have also been under attack across the country as conservatives rail against the teaching of so-called critical race theory. Last year in Florida, books about race that were removed include Antiracist Baby by Ibram Kendi, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and Beloved by Toni Morrison.

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