DeSantis Defends Decision to Block Amanda Gorman’s Poem for Elementary Students
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis supports Florida school in restricting Amanda Gorman's poem for elementary students.
Days after signing several new educational laws -- including a requirement for schools to remove “controversial books” within five days of a complaint-- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defended one school’s decision to restrict “The Hill We Climb,” the poem written Amanda Gorman and recited at President Biden’s inauguration.
“They moved it from elementary school library to middle school library,” DeSantis said during a Twitter Spaces event in which he launched his presidential campaign.
"It was basically just determined that this particular book was better suited for middle school."
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DeSantis denied allegations of banned books, adding that no books have been banned in the state.
“The whole book ban thing is a hoax,” DeSantis said. “There has not been a single book banned in the state of Florida.”
He continued: “Parents have flagged books in schools that for example teach middle school kids how to use sex apps, that provide graphic depictions of sex acts and sex toys for people as young as fifth grade, so clearly that is not appropriate to be in a middle school classroom, so parents object and the schools take them out.”
Multiple school districts have removed books over parental complaints, including classic novels like Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Nobel Prize Winner Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye.
DeSantis' was responding to a decision by administrations at a Miami-Dade K-8 school to restrict elementary-age students from accessing Gorman's poem, along with four books.
According to the Miami Herald, a parent complained the books were “not educational” and that they referenced critical race theory, gender ideology, “indirect hate messages." As a result of a law DeSantis signed in March, a parent complaint about materials at a school triggers a review of the materials.
The Herald obtained the complaints through the Florida Freedom to Read Project, an advocacy group that fights for children's access to information.
The district denied that Gorman's poem was banned, in a statement. "It was determined at the school that 'The Hill We Climb' is better suited for middle school students and, it was shelved in the middle school section of the media center. The book remains available in the media center," a statement said.
Gorman took to Twitter Tuesday to denounce the school’s action, saying she was “gutted” noting that censored books are often written by people “who have struggled for generations to get on bookshelves,” adding that the majority are “queer and non-white voices.”
“I wrote The Hill We Climb so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment,” Gorman said. “Ever since, I’ve received countless letters and videos from children inspired by The Hill We Climb to write their own poems. Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech.”
According to the Herald, the other restricted books include The ABCs of Black History, Cuban Kids, Countries in the News Cuba, and Love to Langston.
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