Feb 14, 2022 - News

Support for book bans spreads across Tampa Bay

Illustration of a stack of books with barbed wire wrapped around them.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The war on books is spreading as parents call for titles like Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" and Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite Runner" to come off shelves at school districts across Tampa Bay.

State of play: Polk County made headlines recently for pulling 16 books for review, but book challenges are becoming a routine part of school board meetings far and wide.

  • "This book contains 66 F-bombs," said a woman addressing the Hillsborough County school board last week about Kacen Callender's "Felix Ever After."

Why it matters: The Florida House last week passed a measure that would make it a lot easier to yank objectionable books.

Details: HB 1467 would require districts to involve parents on committees that make recommendations to school boards about the "ranking, eliminating or selecting" of instructional materials.

  • Critics say the law is unnecessary because schools already involve parents in the process.

The bill would also require districts to adopt procedures to allow for the "regular removal or discontinuance of books" in school libraries based on factors such as the books' relevance to curriculum and alignment to state academic standards, the News Service of Florida reports.

  • The bill now goes to the Senate. A similar Senate bill, SB 1300, is still in committee.

Between the lines: The book ban bonanza is an outgrowth of the parental-rights movement that rose up during the debate over masks in schools last year, reports Marlene Sokol for the Tampa Bay Times.

The big picture: Districts in at least 31 states are embroiled in book debates, Education Week reports, and the groups that have been most active β€” like Moms for Liberty β€” have seen explosive growth and could rally voters around the issue in the next election.

The other side: A nationwide group of suburban women called Red, Wine & Blue has launched a Book Ban Busters site to map challenged books across the country and organize opposition.

Of note: WMNF's Shelley Reback spoke with Tampa Bay Times books editor Colette Bankroft and Lois Lowry, bestselling author of "The Giver" and part-time Southwest Florida resident, about the book ban movement.

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