Updated May 23, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Florida school restricts inauguration poem access: Amanda Gorman "gutted"

Amanda Gorman appears on stage on April 23, 2022, in Los Angeles, California. Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images

Poet Amanda Gorman said Tuesday that she's "gutted" to learn that her book, "The Hill We Climb," was banned from a Florida school.

Driving the news: Gorman, 25, who performed the spoken word poem at President Biden's inauguration, said on Twitter that she wrote "The Hill We Climb," so that "young people could see themselves in a historical moment."

Yes, but: Miami-Dade County Public Schools said in a statement to Axios that no literature has been banned or removed.

  • "It was determined at the school that “The Hill We Climb” is better suited for middle school students and, it was shelved in the middle school section of the media center," spokesperson Elmo R. Lugo said. "The book remains available in the media center."

Details: A parent of two students at the Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes challenged five books, including Gorman’s, per The New Republic.

  • The person argued that the poem contains "indirect hate messages" and causes confusion and indoctrination, per documents shared by the Florida Freedom to Read Project.

Zoom out: The move comes after Penguin Random House, which is Gorman's publisher, joined PEN America and several authors in filing a federal lawsuit last week against Escambia County School District in northern Florida over its removal and restriction of 10 other books related to race or LGBTQ identity from school libraries.

  • That school district restricted the books on the grounds that they violated Florida's Parental Rights in Education Act — dubbed by critics the "Don't Say Gay" Act, which has been championed and expanded by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in preparation for a potential 2024 presidential run.

What she's saying: "So they ban my book from young readers, confuse me with [Oprah], fail to specify what parts of my poetry they object to, refuse to read any reviews, and offer no alternatives," she said in a tweet.

  • Gorman added that "unnecessary" book bans are on the rise, "and we must fight back."
  • “The majority of these censored works are by queer and non-white voices,” she said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

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