Following a parent’s complaint, a K-8 school in Florida restricted access to an Amanda Gorman poem it had read at the 2021 presidential inauguration. The school moved the book in its library to an upper-grade-only shelf . But social media posts falsely claimed that Miami-Dade County had “banned” the book from all of its elementary schools.
Since 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed several high-profile education bills into law that the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, have either condemned or found controversial.
DeSantis, who is the 2024 Republican presidential candidate, has signed bills that prohibit public universities from funding diversity programs and prevent teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity with students in public schools up to grade 12.
He also signed CS/HB 7, or the Individual Liberty Act, which the governor says is intended to ban critical race theory from being taught in Florida schools. Critics say the law will limit the teaching of black history.
On May 20, the NAACP issued a travel advisory for Florida “in direct response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ aggressive attempts to erase Black history and restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools.” The NAACP advisory reads: “Florida is openly hostile to African-Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people.”
DeSantis also signed a bill that, according to a press release from the governor’s office, “is intended to preserve the rights of parents to make decisions about what materials their children are exposed to at school.”
On March 29, a parent filed a complaint with a K-8 school in Miami-Dade County about a poem read by Amanda Gorman during the inauguration of President Joe Biden. As a result, the book containing the poem was moved to a section of the school library reserved for sixth, seventh and eighth grade students.
He Associated Press reported that the school “banned” the poem, though AP later changed the story’s headline to say it was “banned for younger children.”
Social media posts began spreading the misleading claim that Miami-Dade County had “banned” Amanda Gorman’s poem from all 158 county elementary schools.
“FLORIDA FASCISM. Miami-Dade County has banned the poem read by Amanda Gorman during the inauguration of President Biden in elementary schools following the objection of a single parent,” read an Instagram post, which was shared by comedian DL Hughley.
The publications exaggerate the action taken in Florida. The poem was not “banned” or restricted in all elementary schools in the county. Access to the poem was restricted in one school to students in the upper grades.
At the Bob Graham Education Center, a K-8 school located in Miami Lakes, a parent complained about five different reading materials, including Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb.” As a result of the complaint, four of the five materials were restricted for students in grades K-5, the Miami Herald reported.
The other four books named in the parents’ complaint were “The ABC’s of Black History,” Tony Medina’s “Love Langston,” Kieran Walsh’s “Countries in the News: Cuba” and George Ancona’s “Cuban Children.”
The father cited “hate speech” and “CRT,” or critical race theory, as some of the reasons for the complaint, according to documents shared with the Miami Herald and published on Twitter by the Florida Freedom to Read Project.
Following parental complaints, the books were reviewed by a committee at the Miami Lakes school and it was decided that the material was appropriate for students. Yon the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
The Florida Freedom to Read Project shared another tweet that included the Record of meeting of the committee’s review.
“Below are the minutes of the review committee meeting that was held on 4/5/23. Aside from THE HILL WE CLIMB, all of the books were written with K-5 readers in mind. Due to the ‘age appropriate’ language in HB7, this committee ‘erred on the side of caution’ and restricted them to 6-8,” the Florida Freedom to Read Project tweeted.
He review committee he said Gorman’s “book has educational value because of its historical significance” and “was determined to be of value to high school students.”
The Miami-Dade County Public Schools district also clarified his action regarding Gorman’s poem in a May 23 tweet: “To ensure accurate information, @MDCPS is compelled to clarify that the book titled ‘The Hill We Climb’ by @TheAmandaGorman was never banned or removed from one of our schools . The book is available in the media center as part of the middle grades collection.”
About 570 books have been banned or restricted in Florida from July 2021 to June 2022, according to PEN America, a nonprofit organization that sued a Florida school district along with book publisher Penguin Random House over the bans. recent.
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Axe, Jose. “Florida board of education extends ban on gender identity lessons to all grades.” Reuters.com. April 19, 2023.
“Governor Ron DeSantis signs a bill requiring transparency in the curriculum.” Press release. FLgov.com. March 25, 2022.
Staff of the Human Rights Campaign. “Gov. DeSantis signs a list of extreme anti-LGBTQ+ bills, enacting a record number of discriminatory measures into law.” May 17, 2023.
“Governor Ron DeSantis signs legislation to strengthen Florida’s position as a national leader in higher education.” Press release. FLgov.com. May 15, 2023.
Chapell, Bill. “1 complaint led a Florida school to restrict access to Amanda Gorman’s famous poem.” npr. Updated May 25, 2023.
Chuck, Andrea. “DeSantis Signed 5 Education Bills: Here’s What They Will Do.” WTSP. May 9, 2023.
Florida Senate Committee on Education. “CS/HB 7—Individual Liberty.” Accessed June 2, 2023.
Papaycik, Matt. “Florida Governor Signs Controversial Bill Banning Critical Race Theory In Schools.” WPTV.com. April 22, 2022.
Pilkington, Ed. “Amanda Gorman ‘Gutted’ After Florida School Banned Biden Inauguration Poem.” The Guardian. May 24, 2023.
NAACP Issues Florida Travel Advisory. Press release. NAACP. May 20, 2023.
Associated Press (@AP). “A poem by Amanda Gorman that was written for the inauguration of President Joe Biden has been placed on a shortlist at a South Florida elementary school after a parent complained..” May 24, 2023.
Brugal, Sommer. “Miami-Dade K-8 Excludes 4 Title Elementary Students From Library After Parent Complaint.” Miami Herald. May 24, 2023.
DeMillo, Andrew, et al. “Presidential candidate DeSantis inspires push to ease book bans in Republican-controlled states.” Associated Press. May 26, 2023.
Florida Freedom to Read Project (@FLFreedomRead). “These are the documents we shared with @smrugal from the @MiamiHerald. @TheAmandaGorman’s THE HILL WE CLIMB, forwarded by @Oprah, restricted to @MDCP grades 6-8 K-8 after a parent complained that it was “not educational” and contained “hate messages.” Absurd.Twitter. May 23, 2023.
Florida Freedom to Read Project. “About.” Accessed June 2, 2023.
Florida Freedom to Read Project (@FLFreedomRead). “Below are the minutes of the review committee meeting held on 4/5/23. Aside from THE HILL WE CLIMB, all of the books were written with K-5 readers in mind. Due to the “age appropriate” language in HB7, this committee “erred on the side of caution” and restricted them to 6-8″. Twitter. May 23, 2023.
Miami-Dade Schools (@MDCPS). “To ensure accurate information, @MDCPS is forced to clarify that the book titled “The Hill We Climb” by @TheAmandaGorman was never banned or removed from one of our schools. The book is available in the media center as part of the middle grades collection.Twitter. May 23, 2023.
Yang, Wesley (@wesyang). “Headline: “Amanda Gorman Biden Inauguration Poem Banned by Florida School” Paragraph 15-16: “one of the books…was balanced and age-appropriate, and would continue to be available to all students… ” The other four were deemed “more suitable” or “more appropriate” for high school students.” May 25, 2023.
“PEN America Schoolbook Bans Index.” Feather America. Accessed June 2, 2023.