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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Classroom libraries aren't a crime in Florida

The "great Florida classroom library freak-out of 2023" is based on faulty reporting, confusing directives from local school officials and political hysteria, writes Ryan Mills on National Review.

Stories, such as this one in the Washington Post, claim teachers face felony charges -- five years in prison and a $5,000 fine -- for displaying unapproved books in their classroom libraries. Under orders from administrators, fearful teachers are covering their classroom libraries to avoid violating House Bill 1467, which requires school instructional materials to be approved by media specialists and listed on the school's web site.

But the new law includes no criminal penalties, writes Mills. A different Florida law, on the books for years, makes it a felony for any adult to provide children with “explicit” materials — depictions or recordings of “nudity or sexual conduct, sexual excitement, sexual battery, bestiality, or sadomasochistic abuse.”

So nobody's going to jail for an unvetted copy of Frog and Toad, even though the author's daughter says the amphibious couple were more than just friends.

Education commissioner Manny Diaz suggested that teachers use common sense. "If there’s something in a gray area that you think could be an issue, pull that book aside and have it vetted by the process to make sure that indeed it should be in that library,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that you cover your library or shut it down.”

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