No Books Allowed In Florida Classrooms

By Taylor Rice

Shelves are bare in Manatee County Classrooms. Spaces once occupied by books now collect dust. Teachers of the Florida school district are left experiencing “fear” and “confusion” as the district works to implement House Bill 1467. Similar attempts have been made in other Florida counties in order to comply with the law proposed and endorsed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. 

House bill 1467, signed by DeSantis in March of last year, states that schools must be transparent in their selection of instructional, library, and reading materials. This means that parents have the right to know what their students are reading and a means to view these materials. On the surface, that sounds harmless. However, when digging deeper into the bill it’s revealed how truly stifling it is. 

All materials provided to students must be free of pornography, gender identity issues (for students in Kindergarten through third grade), along with discrimination against race, color, sex, or national origin. The books must also be approved by a certified media specialist. 

While the conditions appear innocent in nature, they allow censorship of books addressing America’s history and Political issues. The book “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, for example, would fall under illegal books since it deals with issues of color during the Jim Crow era. Students would no longer be allowed to read and learn about the hardships people suffered due to the color of their skin, and that they still suffer unequal treatment today. That’s not even mentioning history and art books. Not allowing any books involving gender identity issues also prevents students from exploring who they are or who they could be. 

Teachers don’t even have a choice in the matter. According to the Florida Department of Education, “Any person violating any provision of this situation of this section commits a felony of the third degree.” If teachers were to even hide an unapproved book for story time in their classroom they are at risk of losing their teaching license, their right to vote, or even jail time.

House Bill 1467 demonstrates blatant control and censorship of information. It draws frightening parallels to the dystopian novel “1984” by George Orwell, where a higher power controls the daily lives of the people. Therefore, let’s not disregard the message of the cautionary tale. Do not turn a blind eye and let political leaders take away our freedoms one by one. Protest, write letters, make our displeasure known. 

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