Editor’s note: Some of the images in this article are graphic.
An overwhelming majority of books removed from Florida schools since the beginning of the academic year in September 2022 were pornographic, violent, or inappropriate for students’ grade levels, according to school district data submitted to the state’s Department of Education.
Twenty-three out of 56 school districts reported that they had removed a total of 175 books, while 33 districts (59%) said that they had not removed any books this academic year, according to data reviewed by The Daily Signal.
The data reveals that 164 of the 175 removed books were taken out of school media centers, rather than classrooms, and 153 of the books that were removed (87%) were taken out because the district discovered that the book was “pornographic, violent or inappropriate for the grade level for some other reason.”
The school districts in Duval County and St. Johns County removed the most books at 19 each, according to the Florida Education Department data. Duval County schools reported that they removed 16 out of the 19 books because they were pornographic, violent, or inappropriate.
The data comes amid a review of educational materials in Florida schools prompted by the state’s curriculum transparency bill and a national outcry over explicit conversations, books, and materials for school children.
Media outlets like The Washington Post have suggested that Florida is criminalizing nebulously defined books in schools, forcing teachers to get rid of all their books to avoid prosecution.
“There has been no state instruction to empty libraries or cover up classroom books,” Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press secretary, Bryan Griffin, said in a post on Twitter. “However, we ARE taking a stand against pornography and sexual material in the classroom.”‘
Griffin also denounced the idea that teachers in Florida would be committing a third-degree felony by having certain books and literature in classrooms.
“No. Not literature, not ‘certain topics’—it’s pornographic material that carries the felony penalty,” he said. “NO classroom or school library should have pornographic material made available to children. Unfortunately, this is a real and ongoing problem. If you are confused about the law, you can review Statute 847.012, which has been the law in Florida for years.”
That statute specifically prohibits adults from knowingly distributing pornography, nudity, or sexual content to a minor on school property.
DeSantis signed a curriculum transparency bill in March 2022, which requires school districts to be “transparent in the selection of instructional materials, including library and reading materials.” The legislation aims at preserving the rights of parents to know and decide what their children are being taught.
“In Florida, our parents have every right to be involved in their child’s education,” DeSantis said at the time. “We are not going to let politicians deny parents the right to know what is being taught in our schools. I’m proud to sign this legislation that ensures curriculum transparency.”
This week, DeSantis officials took to Twitter to highlight some of the more horrifying books found in Florida schools. This includes the books “Let’s Talk About it,” “It’s Perfectly Normal,” and “Gender Queer,” which includes the “shockingly obscene comics” depicted in the below tweet.
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