PEN America Florida
Who We Are
PEN America’s Miami office was established in 2023 to address the rampant free expression infringements in Florida. The Miami office works throughout the state of Florida to secure academic freedom and free expression and celebrate the written word without censorship. PEN America Florida expands the organization’s footprint, equipping it to advance free expression policy priorities in a state that is leading the country in efforts to curtail free speech and expression.
Florida overtook Texas during the last school year by banning more books in public school classrooms and libraries than any other state, according to PEN America’s data. Florida now ranks first in the nation and accounts for more than 40% of all documented bans. The state’s speech-constricting laws, policies, and book bans have become a template for conservative activists and lawmakers behind the movement that has led to nearly 6,000 instances of book bans since 2021. Books about race and by authors of color, along with topics focused on sexual orientation and gender are most frequently ripped from shelves, robbing students of the diversity of ideas and perspectives they need in a pluralistic society.
PEN America has been at the forefront of documenting and defending against this spreading censorship—unseen since the 1950s McCarthy-era Red Scare. The PEN America Florida office will allow the organization to expand this work to ensure that Florida is a bastion of free expression and academic freedom.
The PEN America Florida office works on multiple fronts to launch advocacy strategies across the state to not only counter the Florida legislature’s attempts to impede First Amendment freedoms, but also seeks to affirmatively secure Florida as a home to free expression and robust academic excellence.
The PEN America Florida team applies legal advocacy, policy and legislative initiatives, and community organizing to move the needle in Florida. The team approaches this work understanding that Florida is being used as a blueprint for censorious extremism across the country. Our mission is to change this trajectory and ensure that Florida serves as an example not of extremism but of freedom and democracy.
Florida’s policies and legislative proposals have been picked up and replicated around the nation, providing a governance blueprint for how to suppress large portions of Americans’ speech in the name of prosecuting the new culture war.
Free to Be Florida is a statewide network of parents, teachers, students, and public interest organizations who believe Florida’s children deserve a safe learning environment free from government overreach and censorship.
The network seeks to not only build community engagement to fight back against censorship and discrimination in Florida, but also brings individuals and groups together across the state to collaborate and effectuate state-wide strategies.