Florida Bill Would Let Parents and Citizens Challenge Any Book Used in Schools
An "Alarming Prerogative" for Setting Public Education Policy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(New York, N.Y.) — Bill HB1467 is headed to Governor DeSantis’s desk after passing the Florida House and Senate this week. The bill establishes term limits for school boards, but also facilitates challenges from parents and residents to remove books they object to from school curriculum, instructional materials, libraries, and even books on reading lists. The bill mandates the maintenance of public, searchable websites listing all school materials and library books, the organization of public hearings when any school material is challenged, and the creation of a list of discontinued books from each district, to be compiled and circulated by the Florida commissioner of education each year.
“HB 1467 has been touted as a measure to increase school transparency,” said Jonathan Friedman, director of PEN America’s Free Expression and Education program, “but the real aim is clear: to encourage and facilitate public scrutiny of schools, and intimidate teachers from using any books or materials that might even be remotely controversial. The bill places administrative burdens on schools which may prove costly and time-consuming; and it also risks encouraging local districts to discontinue books that any parent or citizen deems ‘inappropriate’ anywhere in the state. That doesn’t appear to concern GOP lawmakers, who are more interested in appeasing censorious-minded parents, than in protecting the freedom of students to learn. That’s an alarming prerogative when it comes to setting public education policy.”
PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.
Contact: Suzanne Trimel, Communications and Media Consultant, STrimel@PEN.org