Florida Restricts Book Challenges by Non-Parents in Public Schools

Florida Gov. DeSantis signs law limiting book challenges in public schools, capping non-parents to 1 per month, amid rising book bans in the state.

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Hadeel Hashem
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Florida Restricts Book Challenges by Non-Parents in Public Schools

Florida Restricts Book Challenges by Non-Parents in Public Schools

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a new bill, HB 1285, that limits the ability of non-parents to challenge books in public school libraries and classrooms. The law, which takes effect on July 1, 2023, caps the number of challenges an individual can make per year if they don't have a student enrolled in that district.

Previously, there were no limits on who could challenge books and other educational materials or how many challenges one person could submit. The change in law comes after more than 1,200 objections were filed to library books and other materials in the previous school year, with over half of the objections occurring in two counties.

The new law states that Florida residents without children in a school district "may not object to more than one material per month." This provision does not apply to parents with children enrolled in Florida schools, including those who homeschool, who can file unlimited objections.

DeSantis acknowledged that some school districts may have gone too far in removing titles but maintains that Florida does not ban books in schools. The governor's office stated that the new law "protects schools from activists trying to politicize and disrupt a district's book review process."

Why this matters: Florida currently leads the nation in public school book bans, with 1,406 books banned in total, which is about 40% of the total book bans reported in the United States. The new law aims to address concerns about individuals abusing the system and overwhelming districts with challenges.

The change in law was part of a wider education bill that also includes provisions to simplify the process for parents to remove children from poor-performing schools and incentivize districts to increase the number of Purple Star schools that support military families. DeSantis signed the bill at Jacksonville Classical Academy, where he praised the "booming" classical education and said a new classical teaching certificate would help teachers with classical training find jobs at schools like the one he visited.

Key Takeaways

  • FL Gov. DeSantis signs law limiting book challenges by non-parents
  • Law caps non-parent challenges to 1 per month, parents can challenge unlimited
  • FL leads nation in public school book bans, with 1,406 books banned
  • Law aims to address concerns about individuals abusing the challenge system
  • Law also simplifies process for parents to remove kids from poor-performing schools