Florida Book Banning in Schools: SMCM Perspectives
By Nicole Osborne
Towards the beginning of the month, a bill advancing in the Florida State Legislature has come to the surface. House Bill 7, which has the support of Gov. Ron DeSantis, would require the instant removal of certain books targeted for objections. Part of the bill mandates that instructional material facing objection in public schools through 12th grade for depicting “sexual” or “pornographic” conduct be “unavailable to students until the objection is resolved” (House Bill 7).
This means that books, amongst other materials, could be removed before due process ,meaning that any Florida resident could get a book removed from the school. There is no objection that serious sexual content should be prohibited through 12th grade, but this provision as written is that it can be easily abused.
If this bill passes, it would become a statewide policy that books with “sexual conduct” must be banned from a given district’s schools immediately upon the objection of one resident of that county. In educational institutions, the legislation prevents students from obtaining books that are not “age appropriate,” which includes books with race and LGBTQ+ content, thus raising more concern around the specific topics that may be censored by this law.
Angelie Roche, a Junior education minor, told TPN, “Throughout history, one of the hallmarks of a corrupt or authoritarian government is banning books and/or restricting the press. This is because governments know the power that literature can have.” This power lies within exposing children to other narratives and points of view, such as the difficult truths about America’s not-so-perfect history. Florida’s government is afraid of this, and controlling the curricula in schools is their way of asserting power. Roche said, “They want a world where their kids think the current system is great, where they don’t question America’s past or present, and where they continue to uphold the patriarchal and capitalist society we’ve built.”
It seems that DeSantis’ book-banning provision is working against him, as Florida House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell is now leading an effort to have 50 Florida counties review DeSantis’ book “The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival.” It is clear that there is rejection of House Bill 7 from not only the majority of society but from politicians as well. This proves that the book banning bill can backfire on the political and governmental authorities who attempt to create or pass the bill. Roche said, “Though it’s scary, I don’t think that banning books will have the effect those politicians want; their kids will be exposed to the truth at some point.” Literature and media have the power to introduce difficult topics in safe ways, but if this bill is passed, kids will find that information somewhere else, most likely a dangerous place.
Roche went on, “I think the main problem with our education system is we’re letting people who have never been teachers themselves, or sometimes never stepped foot in a public school classroom, make legislation about what goes on in public schools. It makes no sense.” There is an apparent need for restructuring and reform within schools, which starts with politicians and government officials. The nation and government does not provide the proper space not only for teachers, but for students as well– creating a lack of mutual respect. Banning books will only further the spread of misinformation and ignorance that plagues our nation today. It is important to protect children, but there is no need to shield them from the harsh realities of living in America.