Amid an ongoing battle over nationally banned books by conservatives, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was confronted about his stance on the issue in an interview with Fox News on Sunday.
DeSantis, a Republican running for president in 2024, has been an outspoken critic of removing books from Florida schools that he deemed inappropriate and has since faced backlash over a law passed last year , which requires teachers to remove books that do not appear on a state-approved reading list until they are reviewed by a media professional certified staff member. School officials across the Sunshine State have struggled to comply with the law, and some said it has led to confusion over which books are allowed in classrooms.
Republicans said the legislation prevents students from receiving books that are not age-appropriate, but critics view the law as an attempt to suppress discussion of issues such as race, gender and the LGBTQ+ community in public schools, raising concerns The fact that many topics may be such is censored by this law, which is met with strong resistance from Democrats.
In a Sunday interview with Fox News host Shannon Bream, Florida’s governor claimed that books had not been banned outright in the state, but rather that only what he deemed “inappropriate” books had been removed from classrooms.
“I was at a women’s meeting the other night and one of them said, ‘I think it’s terrible that books are banned in Florida.’ She has a child who is in the LGBTQ community and said, ‘I don’t want my child to go anywhere like that,'” Bream said.
In response, DeSantis emphasized his stance, saying, “First, there is not a single book that has been banned in the state of Florida, this is a media hoax. Removing a book from a fourth grade classroom that is pornographic.” Because it is not appropriate for children of that age does not mean banning the book. As an adult, you are free to do that if you want.”
When asked by Bream about the decision to remove books from certain age groups, citing concerns from parents, the LGBTQ+ community and teachers about the impact on students, the Florida governor added: “You have to make decisions about what is appropriate for the curriculum.”…The other thing is what teachers can and cannot say. A teacher shouldn’t teach a second grader that their gender is a choice… I think what we’re really doing is justifying what education should be.
While efforts to ban books or censor educational materials have increased in recent years, Florida has become the first in a wave of conservative states to pass laws regulating the availability of books in schools – and sometimes even public ones – since the law was passed in 2022 Libraries – waived .
The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has released data showing a continued increase in attempts to censor books, materials and services in public schools and academic libraries across the United States.
Between January 1 and August 31, 2023, the OIF reported 695 attempts to censor library materials and services and documented challenges to 1,915 individual titles, a 20 percent increase from the same reporting period in 2022. In Florida, the data shows that there were 22 attempts decided to restrict access to books, while in these attempts 194 titles were challenged.
Newsweek has reached out to DeSantis and the American Library Association for further comment.
Equality Florida, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, announced a travel advisory for the state in April due to Florida’s enactment of laws making it “hostile” to LGBTQ+ people.
“Free states don’t ban books. Free states do not censor entire communities from the classroom. Free states do not refuse to recognize the historic contributions of LGBTQ people because of who they are and who they love. Free states do not wage war. “People scoring cheap political points for a man who desperately wants to be president,” said a spokesman for the organization Newsweek in an earlier statement.