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Lillian’s Lowdown: The Florida book ban doesn’t protect students, it hurts them

Florida’s HB 1467, a bill that sets new guidelines for what material should be allowed in schools, is causing controversy nationwide. Books in schools must now meet certain criteria before they can be distributed to students. 

This comes after HB 7, or the Stop W.O.K.E. Act, which deeply restricts discussions about racism in classrooms, and HB 1557, which prohibits dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity under certain grade levels. Governor Ron DeSantis is standing by the bill, despite the clear damage it will do to students.

A news release on Gov. DeSantis’s website asserts that the book ban is a “hoax” and that the literature being pulled from schools is explicit material. For example, the release names four banned books: “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe, “Flamer” by Mike Curato, “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson and “Let’s Talk About It” by Erica Moen and Matthew Nolan. 

Notice that three out of the four examples provided are books that specifically cover LGBTQIA+ topics. The other is an educational book targeted toward older teenagers that teaches topics such as relationships, sex and consent. 

In addition, several other books have been removed in compliance with Florida’s HB 1557, better known as the Don’t Say Gay Act. As a result, children’s books such as “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, a book about two male penguins and their chick based on the real story of penguins Roy and Silo of Central Park Zoo, and “In Our Mother’s House” by Patricia Polacco, the story of a family with two mothers, have been removed from Lake County Schools.

The bill also targets people of color. Schools have banned books such as “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, which deals with racism and police brutality, and Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” and “Beloved,” which both address racism and its history in America. Additionally, the news release’s accompanying video presentation states that Florida rejected an AP African American Studies course because it dealt with intersectionality, queer theory and “indoctrinating content.” Meanwhile, this legislation insists on denying the struggles of minorities and prohibits access to literature that might acknowledge those struggles— establishing a lesson plan that puts forth a single narrative and discourages any challenge to that narrative. 

Some may claim that this bill will protect children from offensive and age-inappropriate literature, but in actuality, this bill will help no one. Rather, it will only hinder the development of critical thinking skills and cause harm to minority students who will be left with fewer resources. 

Gov. DeSantis did not pass this bill so he could protect children from pornography or some sort of damaging, offensive material. He passed it to further a conservative agenda that ignores and diminishes the experiences of minorities. Everyone, including children, has a right to free thought. If Gov. DeSantis truly cared about the well-being of Florida’s children, he would not be trying to take that right away.

Lillian Barry is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to share your thoughts? Let Lillian know by tweeting her at @lillianbarry_.

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