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Florida’s Battle over Children’s Books: Laws Restricting Access Spark Controversy and Confusion



Florida faces debate on children's books, with laws limiting access to materials on race, gender, and sexuality. Educators say the rules are vague and create confusion and potential censorship. (Shutterstock)
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The state of Florida has become a battleground in the ongoing debate over what books are appropriate for children to read, with laws that have greatly expanded the state’s ability to restrict access to some educational materials it sees as problematic.

Over the past year, access to certain books, specifically those with subjects on race, gender, or sexual orientation, has become politicized. This has led to an increase in legislation and regulations in some states and districts that affect which books school libraries can offer.

Florida, in particular, has passed three state laws aimed at removing reading or educational materials, including the Parental Rights in Education law, which constrains instruction on gender and sexuality, and the Stop WOKE Act, which prohibits instruction that could make students feel guilty or responsible for the past actions of other members of their race.

Many educators say the rules are vague and have brought confusion and chaos. Some teachers and librarians started removing or covering up books that have not been vetted by certified media specialists, possibly in an attempt to ensure compliance to the new laws.

Violation of the law could be a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. Critics argue that the policies censor educators, limit students’ access to books, and harm public education.

Read more at The New York Times.

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