Warning Labels Added to Books in Florida; Titles Removed in Oklahoma and Utah | Censorship Roundup

Collier County, FL, has added a "parent advisory" notice to more than 100 books in school libraries, and more LGBTQIA+ titles are being removed from districts across the country in the latest Censorship Roundup.


Warning labels added to books in Florida

Collier County (FL) School District in Florida attached a warning label to more than100 books.  Physical labels were affixed to hard copies, and the warning label was added to the entries in the online catalog. The books receiving these warnings disproportionately include titles featuring LGBTQ+ characters and plot lines and titles about communities of color, according to PEN America.

The labels read: "ADVISORY NOTICE TO PARENTS: This advisory notice shall serve to inform you that this book has been identified by some community members as being unsuitable for students."

According to PEN America, the books now containing a warning include 46 titles (42 percent) with LGBTQ+ characters or themes, 16 titles (15 percent) with transgender characters or themes, 34 titles (31 percent) with protagonists or secondary characters of color, and 47 titles (46 percent) with sexual content, including educational books about sexual health. Ten titles (9 percent) are picture books.

Books carrying a warning label include Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Forever… by Judy Blume, Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall, Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson, I am Jazz by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel, Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi, and Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe.

LGBTQIA+ book donations stopped in California district

Solana Beach (CA) School District is halting the distribution of LGBTQIA+ book donations to school libraries from the nonprofit Gender Nation after receiving parent complaints, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Superintendent Jodee Brentlinger said that trained teachers will review each title before it is made available in district classrooms.

In the updated Solana Beach School District Solana Beach School District Selection, Reconsideration, and Maintenance Plan for School Libraries document, parents may also choose to limit which books their student may check out. In the event the book in question is to be used in the classroom setting, and more than one student is restricted from accessing the book, the staff member must select a different title.

Co-founder of Gender Nation Keiko Feldman has coordinated the donation of over 15,000 LGBTQ+ books in other area school districts over the past three years and says she has a waiting list of schools requesting books. Books available for donation include Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders, Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall, and Melissa by Alex Gino.

Gender Queer and Flamer removed in Tulsa

Tulsa (OK) Public Schools District superintendent Deborah Gist removed Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and Flamer by Mike Curato from the district’s two high schools following complaints of pornography and obscene images from secretary of education Ryan Walters and State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, according to the Associated Press. Gist stated that the images were the problem, not the storyline, according to Fox23 News.

Walters and Hofmeister circulated screenshots from the books on social media. One board member called for a review of each individual book in the school library collections before the new school year starts.

“When school resumes, we will follow our process and more carefully review books in question,” the district said in a statement. “We are also working to understand the selection process used and will modify as needed.”

52 titles taken off shelves in Utah

Alpine (UT) School District has removed 52 titles from school library shelves after parent complaints, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The district is forming a policy to determine whether or not to reinstate the books and will review an additional 32 titles after adopting a policy. Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression at PEN America, stated that about half of the titles feature LGBTQ+ content, including Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, Queer: the Ultimate LGBTQ Guide for Teens by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke, and Sex: If You’re Scared of the Truth, Don’t Read This! by Carl Sommer.

Local group Utah Parents United has driven the complaints in multiple school districts, including filing a police report about books that they allege are pornography in Davis (UT) School District. In March, Utah passed HB374 prohibiting “pornographic or indecent materials” in schools. The law went into effect in May.

New classification system restricts books in Mississippi

At Madison County (MS) Schools, 10 library books have been placed on a new “controlled” list, only available to students in grades 9-12 with parental permission, according to the Clarion Ledger. A list of 22 titles was originally challenged by the group Madison County for Freedom, which is associated with the group Moms for Liberty.

Madison County (MS) Schools superintendent Charlotte Seals created a three-tier book classification system: full circulation grades 6-12, full circulation grades 9-12, and controlled circulation (requiring parental permission) grades 9-12, which includes The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson.

Oklahoma school districts disciplined for "CRT"

The Oklahoma State Board of Education disciplined two school districts for violating a new state law, which bans Critical Race Theory in schools, according to Fox25.

Mustang Public Schools and Tulsa Public Schools were given “accreditation with warnings,” a disciplinary action requiring the districts to prove to the state board of changes in areas they were found to violate.

One complaint referenced an anti-bullying activity used by a classroom teacher in Mustang Public Schools. According to OKC Fox, students were asked questions like, “Can you walk in a store without anyone thinking you’re about to steal?” and “When walking alone at night, do you have to worry about someone feeling threatened by you?” in order to assess white privilege.

In Tulsa, the district was disciplined without evidence being presented of a complaint that claimed a teacher training shamed white people for “past offenses in history,” one board member told Fox.

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