Florida teachers told to remove books from classrooms for ideological vetting lest they commit a felony

January 24, 2023 • 12:15 pm

Several readers sent me links to this news from Florida about on one county’s book-vetting initiative, designed to remove books from the classroom if they could corrupt students, turning them into Lefists or, god forbid, “grooming” them. But all schools in Florida, as per a new law, will eventually be experiencing this tsouris.

First, demarcated by the red dots, is Manatee County on Florida’s west coast. It’s not irrelevant to this story that Republican Ron DeSantis, who passed the “Stop WOKE Act” banning the teaching of CRT in Florida’s pubic schools, is the governor. (Though I suppose I could be described as “anti-woke,” I do not favor banning the teaching of CRT and certainly oppose this kind of censoring of schoolbooks.)

You can click on either story below. The first is from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and the second, which has more information, is from Judd Legum’s Popular Information website.  I’ll cite quotes as being from either SHT or PI.

From Popular Information by Judd Legum:

What happened here? To comply with a new Florida law, the Manatee County school district told all school principals in the county, including those heading both public and publicly-funded charter schools, that they couldn’t have any books in their classrooms that had not been approved by a “censor certified media specialist”.  Some of the books have already been approved by the schools’ libraries, but there may be other “dangerous” books in the classroom libraries. To have any book in the classroom, it has to be approved.

PI gives the criteria for approval (my bolding):

In Florida, school librarians are called “media specialists” and hold media specialist certificates. A rule passed by the Florida Department of Education last week states that a “library media center” includes any books made available to students, including in classrooms. This means that classroom libraries that are curated by teachers, not librarians, are now illegal.

The law requires that all library books selected be:

1. Free of pornography and material prohibited under s. 847.012.

2. Suited to student needs and their ability to comprehend the material presented.

3. Appropriate for the grade level and age group for which the materials are used or made available

Chapman says that school principals in Manatee County were told Wednesday that any staff member violating these rules by providing materials “harmful to minors” could be prosecuted for “a felony of the third degree.” Therefore, teachers must make their classroom libraries inaccessible to students until they can establish that each book has been approved by a librarian. 

Thus the teachers have to check every book in their classroom library to see if it’s already in the district catalogue of books that don’t purvey WRONGTHINK. That means that teachers have to go through each book to do this cross-checking. If the book is not on the already-approved list, it has to be individually checked out and approved by a censor media specialist.

Note that all three categories are subjective. Does pornography rule out The Catcher in the Rye? Who can tell students that they can’t read a book because they can’t “comprehend it” or because it’s not “appropriate for them”?

Granted, we don’t want classrooms full of Hustler magazines, but the criteria above, being almost completely subjective, demand that someone be appointed to judge the appropriateness of books for kids.  And the results will depend on the censor, of course. Would you want a censor for your kids’ books? If so, who you want, and what criteria should they use? Remember, public schools go up to twelfth grade in America, with the students being 18 years old. That’s old enough to handle almost everything. For crying out loud, I was reading all of this stuff at that age.

If someone’s going to decide, I’d prefer to leave it to each classroom teacher, for he or she knows their students and what they need.

It’s going to be a big job. Below we get an idea of who’s being the censor (from PI; my bolding):

Librarians in Manatee County are now expected to review thousands of books in classroom libraries to ensure compliance with the new law. Manatee County has 64 public schools and 3,000 teachers, many of whom maintain classroom libraries. Chapman said that every school in Manatee County has a media specialist but that the process could take a while because it is “one person” and “they are human.” Any book approved for K-5 students must also be included on a publicly available list.

Similar policies will be implemented in schools across Florida. Some Florida schools do not have a media specialist, making the process even more cumbersome.

That review must also be consistent with a complex training, which was heavily influenced by right-wing groups like Moms For Liberty and approved by the Florida Department of Education just last week. Any mistake by a librarian or others could result in criminal prosecution. This process must be repeated for any book brought into the school on an ongoing basis. But librarians and teachers are not being provided with any additional compensation for the extra work.

The teachers aren’t on board with this, of course. Here’s a photo of one classroom library that a teacher just covered up with construction paper rather than have every book vetted. Free the books!

Note that, according to the tweet below, the posters were made by the students, not by the teachers:

Here’s another classroom in a high school:

And a few statements from teachers:

From the SHT:

Jean Faulk, a history and journalism teacher at Bayshore High, had to remove books on democracy and writings from John Adams because they weren’t vetted in the district’s library system. Her bookshelves are now only lined with reference books, she said.

“This is totally a political move by the governor,” Faulk said. “It has nothing to do with the students.”

She said her school’s administration sent out a directive to teachers asking them to put away or cover up all books in classroom libraries. Faulk said the books from her classroom libraries would now go to other local libraries or Goodwill.

From PI, a future felon speaks:

One high school teacher in Manatee County told Popular Information that they would not comply with the new policy. The teacher has spent the year carefully curating books donated by parents or sourced from their personal collection. “I’m not taking any books out of my room,” the teacher said. “I absolutely refuse.” The teacher spoke on the condition of anonymity, fearing that speaking out about the policy could put their job at risk.

and a book libertarian speaks:

Stephana Ferrell, a co-founder of the Florida Freedom to Read Project, said the new policy followed “a pattern of fear-based decisions that prioritize staying in good favor with the Governor over doing the right thing for our students.” Ferrell said she blamed “the Florida Board of Education that passed this rule change last Wednesday without an ounce of consideration for its impact.” Now, “thousands of students are without classroom access to fun and engaging literature.”

Ironically, Manatee County is making thousands of books inaccessible to students just in time to celebrate “Literacy Week” in Florida, which runs from January 23 to 27. Only about 50% of students in Manatee County are reading at grade level.

This is a good argument for freedom of speech. For now we see what happens when right-wing governments have the right to censor, and it’s not pretty.

What’s the alternative, then? Do we allow every book in the classroom? Clearly that wouldn’t be either appropriate or practical. But I trust these decisions to be made by teachers rather than ideologues like DeSantis. And books should get the benefit of the doubt.

One more teacher tweet from PI:

h/t: Ken

66 thoughts on “Florida teachers told to remove books from classrooms for ideological vetting lest they commit a felony

  1. “But I trust these decisions to be made by teachers rather than ideologues like DeSantis.” That’s assuming that the teachers themselves are no ideologies, which Florida isn’t willing to do.

      1. Conservatives were NEVER about local control. They said whatever sounded like it would produce the results that they desired. If “local control” was the magic phrase, then yes. But as soon as local control began producing results they didn’t like, they started passing preemption laws at the state level.


  2. One of the biggest dangers of the left-wing normalization of censorship was that right could co-opt it.

    1. Jeez, even a cursory review of US history discloses that the rightwing has been in the censorship business way longer the left. See, e.g., the Comstock laws originating during the late 19th century and the Palmer Raids during the First Red Scare.

      SCOTUS’s great free-speech advocates all hailed from the left. See, e.g., Louis Brandeis, Hugo Black, William O. Douglas, and William J. Brennan.

      1. Woodrow Wilson’s administration was highly repressive long before the Palmer Raids. Many opponents of World War I were imprisoned if they spoke out against the war even after the war was over. Magazines that were against the war were forbidden from using the U.S. mail. Wilson tacitly supported the repression. This sorry period in American history is detailed in Adam Hochschild’s “American Midnight: The Great War, A Violent Peace, and Democracy’s Forgotten Crisis.” The book is well-written and quite accessible to the general public. For many decades Wilson was a hero of Democrats because of the progressive legislation he supported, his leadership during World War I, and his valiant attempt to get the U.S. to join the League of Nations. For his repression and racism, that should no longer be the case

    2. And many of the ‘bans’ on the left have been taking books out of the curriculum. In some schools Huckleberry Finn or Merchant of Venice was taken off the required reading list but still available in the library or even the classroom. To the best of my knowledge, these books were ever banned in a public school modern times.
      Can you give any examples of left wing banning of books in the last 30 years?

    3. The right-wing loves censoring school books and children’s reading materials. The left wing is barely catching up.

      Common sense isn’t all that common. This is so frustrating — though it may end up sparking an interest in reading in children who thought it was too dull. Unintended consequences.

    1. The book situation in Florida is but a small taste of what we can expect with a fascist takeover. The punishment of the violator of the law goes well beyond cancellation. It can also mean a criminal penalty. The fact that DeSantis won by a landslide last November is indicative that when a demagogue creates hysteria in the masses, the result is always a tilt rightward. He likely feels that his stirring up the culture wars is his ticket to the White House by outtrumping Trump. He may not be wrong.

  3. Something similar happened locally when a conservative religious faction packed the public library board. They are now instituting a two-tiered checkout system so young people cannot checkout dangerous books. I can only hope the forbidden will have a stronger appeal.

  4. On the other hand, I have sympathy for parents of elementary school kids who don’t think it is appropriate for elementary school libraries to make available books with illustrations of children engaging in sex acts, such as this one. Such parents also do not think it is appropriate for the decision to make such books available to be left up to teachers. Should their wishes carry any weight? If so, how can this be accomplished?

    1. I doubt that any teachers would make such books available to classes. If they do, and parents complain, then I suppose that the books can be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis by the school librarians. Yes, of course parents’ wishes carry some weight, but not all the weight, and not for every book.

      What I don’t like is entire genres of political books being off limits, and one person making all the decisions.

      1. I doubt that any teachers would make such books available to classes.

        If you scroll up in the link I supplied there is a video of a librarian extolling the virtues of that book. She called it “The #1 banned/challenged book of 2021.” That doesn’t sound like a book that is not being made available in schools.

        If they do, and parents complain, then I suppose that the books can be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis by the school librarians.

        But the parents don’t want the school librarian in this video to be adjudicating this question. How do you keep this book out of this school except by an explicit directive naming the book, i.e. a list of banned books?

        What I don’t like is entire genres of political books being off limits, and one person making all the decisions.

        Yes, of course. But the solution obviously can’t be to leave the question to librarians and teachers. I agree that once you start down this road you create the risk of banning books that shouldn’t be banned. But what’s the alternative?

        1. However wrongheaded I may think such censorship to be, I think parents have a right to forbid their minor children from having access to certain books (perhaps via a note to the school librarian to that effect).

          I do not think that such parents have any right to forbid school libraries from granting access to such books to the children of other parents who do not share their views.

      2. You might not be familiar with the controversy surrounding these sorts of books, including that particular one. In 2021 it came to light that books with illustrations or descriptions of minors engaging in sex acts, including at least one where it’s between a child and an adult, were available in various elementary school libraries across the United States. A lot of parents began protesting having this material available to children, but in most of these cases school districts weren’t responsive to parents’ concerns. Most of the discussions about this happened on Twitter, and it didn’t get much coverage in the mainstream media, but one case of it was covered in the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2021/11/23/fairfax-schools-gender-queer-lawn-boy/

        The reason DeSantis passed a law restricting the availability of these books in schools was that it seemed there was no other way to get school districts to comply with the wishes of taxpayers in this respect. If the summary you’ve given in this post is accurate, it sounds like the law is being applied in an overzealous and heavy-handed way, but I don’t think doing nothing at all would have been a good option either.

        1. Again, I must point out that the libraries referred to in the linked WaPo article are high schools, not elementary schools. It is crucially important to make that distinction when making the reference, whether or not you think the books are appropriate even for high school students.
          For the record, I, a librarian, don’t believe the books in these articles would have any chance of being selected for an elementary school library. I’m willing to be proved wrong.

          1. https://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2021/09/13/tiktok-mom-calls-out-texas-school-board-over-4th-grade-book/

            This article says that one of the books was available to 4th graders, although it’s possible that that was due to it having been confused with another (non-explicit) book with the same title. I can find lots of people at Twitter saying they’ve seen this book in other elementary school libraries, but because of how little media coverage this story got, I don’t know how to verify whether that’s really the case.

            The book mentioned in that article is the one I was thinking of that’s about a sexual relationship between a child and an adult. It’s written from the perspective of a ten-year-old boy, and he describes the sex acts he engages in with an adult man whom he calls “the hottest real estate agent in town”. Some more details about this book can be found here: https://thespringmagazine.com/2022/01/28/lawn-boy-is-pedophilic-heres-why-explicit/ Even if there was only that one case of the book being made available to elementary school students, I’m not convinced these descriptions of pedophilia would be appropriate for high schoolers either.

            1. … I’m not convinced these descriptions of pedophilia would be appropriate for high schoolers either.

              And Mr. Nabokov’s Lolita, would you ban high-schoolers from having access to that under penalty of law, too?

              1. I’m not sure, but I don’t think that’s truly an equivalent situation. First, even though the main character in Lolita is meant to be a pedophile, the sex acts themselves are never described in explicit detail the way they are in Lawn Boy. And second, even though Lolita deals with pedophilia, the book overall isn’t an endorsement of it, and the sexual relationship between an adult and a child in that book ends up ruining both of their lives. On the other hand in Lawn Boy, for a ten-year-old boy to have a sexual relationship with an adult man is presented as a positive part of growing up.

              2. @Tetrapteryx:

                I haven’t read Lawn Boy, but the excerpts from the book that appear in the Spring Magazine piece you link to don’t seem to support the claims that the book is particularly explicit or that it endorses pedophilia.

                That’s also not the take on the novel by more mainstream outlets, such as the review by Carol Memmott in The Washington Post, or the summary of the book in Kirkus Reviews.

                The Spring Magazine piece has the earmarks of moral panic.

              3. Technically speaking, Lolita, and Romeo and Juliet, do not concern pedophilia, rather ephebophilia. Both are illegal to do* (well, R & J wouldn’t be in Canada because the age of consent here is 16, used to be 14, including when the movie was made with Olivia Hussey.) But sex with (or sexual attraction to) a sexually incompetent child is very much different from sex with a willing person who 1) understands what is being proposed, and 2) is developmentally capable of the the resulting gratification, but 3) happens to be under the age that the legislature this year has decided is the age at which his/her sexual partner can lawfully rely on his/her consent. (France until about 5 years ago had no minimum age of consent and failed several times to legislate one; now it is 15.)

                If Dolores in Lolita had been a prepubescent child, I would worry very much about the mental health of any male who wanted to read it, much less have sex with her. But she wasn’t. So bring it on. It’s a story all adolescents can in some way relate to….and a few of us dirty old men, even to voice our condemnation of Humbert.

                Sex with a fourteen-year-old is not an offence against Nature. Sex with a 10-year-old boy is, especially if the fantasy — call it a lie — is created that a 10-year-old boy could be “wanting it.” We should not make lies routinely available to children, purporting them to be true.
                * Here I’m talking only about the actual acts if they had been occurring in real life and there is no undue influence being exerted (like teachers over students.) Depictions are governed by a whole series of laws that vary too much from place to place to make any general statements. But in Canada it is illegal to author a child-porn story. So there is that.

            2. @Leslie:

              I haven’t read Lawn Boy (and, from your comment, I take it you haven’t either).

              From what I’ve been able to glean from the reviews linked to above, and from its Wikipedia page, the novel is a semi-autobiographical picaresque coming-of-age tale narrated by a young adult. It is episodic in nature and contains equal measures of comedy and pathos.

              In telling his tale, the narrator recounts a brief sexual encounter he had as a fourth-grader with a fellow fourth-grader. The passage is not particularly graphic; there is no obsessive focus on the incident (as Humbert Humbert obsesses over Delores); it does not serve as a how-to manual, and it does not encourage readers to engage in similar behavior.

              Assuming the accuracy of the above, I don’t think the moral panic over the novel is justified.

    2. Sean, the library in your link is not in an elementary school, it’s in a high school, Lanphier High School in Springfield, IL, and the book, Gender Queer, is in the school library. We don’t have enough information to know that the book is an assigned or recommended book in a high school course. It seems from the librarian, Alyx Corcoran, that the book was selected as a resource for interested students. I’m not necessarily defending Corcoran’s selection of the book, just giving some perspective (nuance?) that it might be appropriate for older teens.

      1. Well, the motivations of parents who want such books banned from elementary school libraries can be understood. What about the parents who want it removed from the high school library as well? Here is a line from the book: “I can’t wait to have your c*** in my mouth. I am going to give you the blowjob of your life, and then I want you inside me.” Would books or magazines containing photographs of children engaged in fellatio or anal intercourse be over the line? What if the photos are accompanied by some text indicating that the subjects of the photos are anguishing about their gender identities? What is the role of high school?

        1. All good questions, Sean. I expect there would be a variety of answers to them depending on the school district. Let the parents, school boards, teachers, and librarians (media specialists) engage in that discussion and come up with selection policies that all can subscribe to. Actually, the school boards most likely already have selection (collection development) policies, so I would ask parents to read those first to be better prepared for the ensuing discussions.

        2. I admit as a teen at high school we talked about such sleezy stuff all the time and worse. I call it “locker room banter” and just regarded it as part of being a teen. My rules about it were keep it in the locker room and only as banter.

    3. I don’t think minors should be compelled to read Gender Queer. But I think it should be available on public library bookshelves, where those who wish to can seek it out.

      Don’t you?

    4. I hadn’t heard it was in elementary schools, though it wouldn’t surprise me. I’ve only come across mentions of it being in high schools. But then, the high school I went to shared a library with the middle school that was next door and that probably isn’t rare.

      I do think parents should have some say, exactly how and how much I’m not sure. And I don’t think pornographic imagery should be in school libraries for young kids. On the other side of the coin, it’s not like middle school and high school kids don’t already know what oral sex and other kinds of sexual acts are. And I’m not sure the few images in this book qualify as porn. That doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t inappropriate though.

    5. Well, that was an eye-opener, what little was featured. May I reasonably take it that there are other varieties of sexual activity featured in the book?

      I’m all for students – and their parents to the extent that they are interested in doing so – going out and buying that book and its ilk for their personal, private reading pleasure. Have at it. Wear it out.

      I don’t think anyone should impose on librarians and teachers the burden of having to deal with it. Exactly what they looked so forward to dealing with when they decided to major in education. (If they have to much deal with it, expect more and more of them to go into a different field of work.)

      If anyone says, we can’t afford to buy those books (even though they can afford $100-plus athletic shoes and pricey smartphones, and perhaps Lexuses and Mercedes and Teslas), then perhaps opponents of such books might care to go so far as to establish some sort of philanthropic fund to buy these books for these enthusiasts’ private consumption (I’d think that that would gall and be embarrassing to the latter) – so long as the latter don’t bring them to school.

      To paraphrase Stanley Fish’s book title, “Read These Books on Your Own Time.”

  5. There has been much in the news about Florida and its banning of AP Black History.
    I took a closer look and looks to me that AP Black History is not being banned….what is in question are certain specific topics that the Florida secretary of education asked the Advanced Placement organization, which sets the curriculum, to further discuss. One such topic is Black Queer Theory.

    The AP organization has not publicly released the actual curriculum to this course. Something it should have done, even if it’s a work in progress.

    So my question: Does anyone one know specifically which writers and books would be taught in Black Queer Theory?

    (Notice that this is not merely Queer Theory….there you would have Foucault, Judith Butler, Eve Sedgwich, others……)

    In researching this, I noticed that the extraordinary amount of disinformation being disseminated by what should be reliable sources.

    1. The AP Program published the curriculum in Feb, 2022. It is 81 pages long with an incredible amount of information. The course looks amazing. If I weren’t 76 I might try to get into such a course. The largest portion seems devoted to the African diaspora with great deal of African history. A major portion also deals with the experience of Africans in the U.S.

      The curriculum includes this one small piece, “Topic 4.19 Black Queer Studies, This topic explores the concept of the queer of color critique, grounded in Black feminism and intersectionality, as a Black studies lens that shifts sexuality studies toward racial analysis. Students may examine texts by writers such as Cathy Cohen, Roderick Ferguson, or E. Patrick Johnson.”

      1. So, I looked up Cathy Cohen…..she holds prestigious positions and has won lots of grants, etc. Here is part of the summary I see for one of her most important books:

        “She provides empirical evidence, which suggests that Black Americans affected by AIDS were excluded from the Black political agenda as a result of sexism, classism, and homophobia. By focusing on how racial elites worked in tandem with the media to suppress coverage of the AIDs epidemic, Cohen documents the political significance of cross-cutting issues within marginalized groups.”

        I am gay and lived through the whole cycle of AIDS epidemic. It’s known that gay Black men had it more difficult because, in sum, the religious conservatism of the Black community. AND the fact that it saw AIDS as a white issue. (The white gay community wasn’t all that welcoming to Black gay men, many of whom seem to be really flamboyantly effeminate….far more than the white gay men…which may have been the playing out of suppression.)


  6. “Watch out, you might get what you’re after.” — Talking Heads
    This is really what ‘anti-woke’ is about.

  7. I have to mostly side with John Steward Mill on this- censorship of anything is bad, for the most part. Turning schools into battlegrounds in the culture wars is very unfortunate, and the kids themselves are the biggest losers in this game. They can’t grow intellectually unless they can explore ideas with some freedom.

    I personally even see a good side to wokist teachings, as long as all ideas can be openly debated – eventually. (I doubt the teachings would survive.) Exposure to pseudo-science may eventually lead to a stronger understanding of science, since it so well illustrates what science is *not*. But regardless, infantilizing kids and making them pawns in political games is just wrong.

  8. Will they ban the Bible, which is full of rape, adultery, multiple marriage, abortion, incest, genocide, and murder? Not mention the best lines of all, to be found in Ezekiel 23.

    1. Yeah, that’s a good line. Here’s my candidate for best line in the Bible: Isaiah 36:12.
      Again I recommend R. Crumb’s illustrated Book of Genesis, showing all the gore and sex in living color.

    2. One favorite of mine from Leviticus 27: “But no devoted thing that a man devotes to the Lord, of anything that he has, whether man or beast, or of his inherited field, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted thing is most holy to the Lord. No one devoted, who is to be devoted for destruction from mankind, shall be ransomed; he shall surely be put to death.”

      Sounds like human sacrifice to me.

      1. I think you’re wrong, Lee. The context is that goods, animals, or people (slaves) pledged to God — read “charity” today — cannot be taken back by being merely repossessed or ransomed. It is the transgressor who steals the pledged goods from God who is to be put to death as punishment, not the thing or person pledged. This passage does not prescribe human sacrifice to God.

        The law of Moses, in operation during the time of Leviticus before everything went downhill later, prohibited human sacrifice. Indeed, this is one of the great gifts of the Jews to humanity. (Relation to or flowing from monotheism I do not speculate.)

        The Wiki page on human sacrifice doesn’t cite this passage as an example from the Bible. The much later Sunday school story of Jephthath the judge who made a rash promise to God to sacrifice the first thing he saw on his return from abroad, and had to kill his daughter, stands in contrast to Abraham’s willingness to kill his son on orders from God until God intervened, satisfied that he had passed the test. The story of Jephthath is the folly of rash promises. God did not intervene to let him off the hook.

  9. This is so backward. Not only is it backward to censor library books, it’s also backward to require all books to be vetted *before* inclusion in the library. Every school library in Florida now has zero books by default. What genius thought up that scheme? Only a politician would have such a perverted mind.

  10. More evidence of the deep and desperate need for more than two oft-censorious parties…
    Also, I noticed a typo where “public” should be. It’s near the start of the page: maybe change that so nobody misreads it as… something else 😐

  11. With all the computers and smart phones on this planet I’m surprised they even still read books.

    And I know the irony of me being on a computer right now.

  12. There are two sorts of anti-wokeism:

    1. liberal left-wing/left-center anti-wokeism
    2. DeSantis-style anti-wokeism: antiliberal right-wing anti-wokeism as endorsed by reactionary conservatives, who want to turn back the clock with regard to the civil rights of sexual or racial minorities.

    I accept 1, but I reject 2; so there is a sense in which I am both an anti-wokeist and an anti-anti-wokeist.

    1. Matter and anti-matter annihilate each other with a burst of hot air. Pick a side if you want to accomplish anything.

      It is starting to look (as Max says below), that you can’t actually get anywhere with anti-wokism beyond belly-aching until you run a legislative scythe through the “thickets of the law” that the vermin shelter and breed in.

      I’m all for measures to turn back the clock on special rights, privileges, and exemptions from behavioural expectations for sexual and racial minorities when they erode the liberty rights of the rest of us, especially with respect to our children. What does that make me?

  13. It sounds to me like a deliberate overreaction to the law, in order to make a political statement.
    In my opinion, laws like Fl H 1467 not only should not be drafted or passed, but they should also be unnecessary.
    Since we are apparently in a world where some teachers feel that it is critically important to teach kids who have not even gone through puberty about anal sex, right down to specific details about the advantages of specific lubes, something needs to be done.
    Parents are outraged. Of course, the religious nuts take advantage of the situation to try to push their own agendas, but even without their input, the situation is untenable. In a less civil society, someone who shows pictures of erect penises to little girls would be hung from a lamp post, whether they are a creepy guy in an alley, a priest, or a school teacher.
    In our society, the preferred and civilized solution is that they petition the government for redress and change. The end product is legislation, because that is what legislators produce.
    Teachers of previous generations, at least in the US, did not need specific legal prohibitions to keep them from presenting wildly inappropriate material to little kids. Any teacher who lacked that sort of judgement would likely be set straight by administrators or other staff.

    I would like it if our legal scholars here could take a look at the law-
    and let us know if it is indeed as Orwellian as it is portrayed to be. I read it as a layman, and it seems to mostly promote transparency, and require that districts come up with a plan on how to advise the staff that pornography or wildly racist materials are not appropriate in classrooms.

    1. Indeed. I accept the concepts of free speech and am averse to censorship… but children are a special case pretty much everywhere. Children are not permitted to drink alcohol, use recreational drugs, get married, or view materials (films, games etc) that they are deemed to young to see. Now the age limits vary in scope throughout the world but the concept is based on children being unable to understand or cope with adult ideas.

      I don’t find it credible that a teacher would be unaware of unsuitable books in the classroom or library – unless they have an ulterior motive. All the fuss about closing libraries sound more like people being affronted by the imposition of standards. It happens in other professions too.

  14. What is to be done? If the liberal and moderate opponents of the illiberal left do not fight back effectively against their actual indoctrination programs and dogma, then there are a few on the political right who will. Unfortunately, they will hit targets both real and illusory.

    How do you avoid collateral damage and successfully defend against race and gender extremism; assaults on free speech and due process; group identity trumping the individual; alternative ways of “knowing”; pick your outrage? It is a damned difficult problem.

  15. I am curious how individuals would explain their position on censorship juxtaposed against the possible role the censored material might play in the recently observed increase in gender dysphoria and trans-identifying youth.

  16. Allowing books age appropriate isn’t censorship. Those “banned” books are readily available on the open market. If a parent or student wants to read them they can.

  17. The solution is obviously to go to a voucher system and let the parents send the kids to the school of their choice.

    It works in Belgium:

    A successful political issue inspires imitators. Virginia has been followed by a series of state-level initiatives attempting to expose, limit or forbid teaching that is connected in any way to Critical Race Theory and the “woke” left. Ironically, this threatens to lead to intrusive book bans and other attempts to impose a kind of conservative political correctness in public schools.

    Yet there is a widely available model for ending this war, one long implemented in some European countries as an answer to their own school wars. School choice is viewed as a radical libertarian experiment here, but in some European countries it has long been a normal way of doing things. The example that is probably most interesting in our current context is Belgium, which adopted a form of school choice in 1958 under what is called the “School Pact” that ended the “Second School War.”

    Belgium’s School Wars were part of a larger battle over church and state. In a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-confessional nation, conflicts over education are inevitable, but Belgium’s School Wars centered around the Catholic Church’s attempt to maintain its dominance by fending off competition from secular public schools. This eventually ended in a truce: Funding both kinds of schools and letting parents choose between them.


    1. The country seems to me to be so divided that increasingly what each side considers necessary and moral is intolerable and evil to the other. No single set of laws, policies, curricula, etc. can apply to the nation or any state, without half of the population feeling disenfranchised and oppressed by the other half.

      I really hope for systems that allow more people to go their own way. This means more local control, perhaps at the county level. Sanctuary policies are already doing this, but it’s an unofficial and extralegal approach. There’s no reason why the rural sea of red should be ruled by the blue urban islands, or vice versa, whether in each state or nationally.

      I doubt both sides would ever embrace a “live and let live” philosophy, though.

  18. All the teachers have to do is make a list of all forbidden books and hang it in plain sight on the library wall.

    These books are going to become so popular (who needs libraries in this day and age? Torrent is still alive) that this initiative will be strongly opposed by conservative parents.

  19. Any teenager with internet access for more than 2 minutes has seen way worse than any of the books I have seen linked in these comments. What seems to be missing here, is a common sense response (non-political) way of not allowing elementary school age kids, access to teenage and adult material at a tax funded location.

  20. Who should be blamed for bringing this culture war to schools?

    A. people who insisted to include those gender queer, critical race theory books to the school libraries, or
    B. people who insisted to exclude those gender queer, critical race theory books from the school libraries

    Another question: who gets to decide what books should be included in the school libraries?

    A. school teachers / librarians
    B. parents
    C. both

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