Speed Reads

Book Bans

Florida school restricts Amanda Gorman's Biden inauguration poem after getting 1 complaint

There has been a sharp rise in restricting books in school libraries in the past few years, but most of the book ban requests "come from a minuscule number of hyperactive adults," The Washington Post reports. A review of 1,065 book challenges in more than 100 school districts in 37 states over the 2021-22 school year found that 60 percent of those challenges were filed by just 11 people, including one man who filed 92 challenges. Some of the book bans were requested through one person working for a larger group, mostly Moms for Liberty

Most of the new requests to pull books from school libraries cite concerns over LGBTQ subject matter, either sexual content or just kids reading about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or nonbinary lives, the Post found. The No. 2 category involved nonwhite characters dealing with racism or race. That latter category is why a school in Florida's Miami-Dade County was asked to ban Amanda Gorman's poem "The Hill We Climb," which she read at President Biden's inauguration

One person petitioned the Bob Graham Elementary Center in Miami Lakes to ban a book version of Gorman's poem plus four other titles. All five books were challenged for CRT (critical race theory) or "gender theory," according to the Florida Freedom to Read Project, which posted the documents. The complaint about Gorman's poem claims it "is not educational," contains "hate messages," and seeks to "cause confusion and indoctrinate students." It also listed Oprah Winfrey as the author. 

The review board at the school, which goes through eighth grade, agreed to make four of the books accessible only to middle schoolers. Gorman said she was "gutted" by the decision to ban her poem from elementary school.

Miami-Dade Schools said it felt "compelled to clarify" that Gorman's poem "was never banned or removed from one of our schools," just moved to "the middle grades collection." The Florida Freedom to Read Project countered that "a compromise that sacrifices some student access is still censorship." Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate, said she is supporting her publisher, Penguin Random House, and PEN America in suing to overturn book restrictions in Florida. "Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech," she wrote.