Monday, May 20, 2024

Naples & Florida News

Clean Water Rights in...

Experts forecast that one other significant algae bloom could end in billions of...

The Emergence of an...

Sightings of Peter’s rock agamas have increased on Sanibel and Captiva since Hurricane...

Soul cleansing – Naples...

How much wine did the famous Spanish painter Pablo Picasso should drink to...

“Punting in Emergencies”

I used to be having coffee the opposite day with a young guy,...
HomePoliticsSouthwest Florida County...

Southwest Florida County Decides to Remove LGBTQ Books from Schools

A Southwest Florida school district has removed books with LGBTQ characters and themes from its elementary and middle school libraries. A training document that confirms this has been circulating on social media for weeks. The document was obtained by advocacy group Florida Freedom to Read through a public records request to Charlotte County Public Schools. Nonetheless, a story published Tuesday morning by accountability journalism newsletter Popular Information has led to an explosion of attention to the Gulf Coast county, with state and national figures blasting the news.

“This is strictly what we said would occur after they passed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ laws,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried in a press release. “The guidance from Charlotte County superintendent is enraging and it should lay to rest the parable that book bans are about anything apart from efforts to suppress LGBTQ+ books and books uplifting marginalized voices,” said Kasey Meehan, director of PEN America’s Freedom to Read project, in a Wednesday statement. “Laws from Florida and guidance from Florida’s Department of Education opened the door for extreme types of censorship, like we’re seeing in Charlotte.”

Yet, this all comes several weeks after PEN America brought attention to legal filings from state Attorney General Ashley Moody that said the Parental Rights in Education Act, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, doesn’t apply to high school library books. So the confusion about and widely-varying interpretations of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recent education laws continues to reign. And the Florida Department of Education, yet again, didn’t reply to questions from the USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida searching for clarity.

The training document in query, dated July 24, says it comes from a “follow-up conversation” with Charlotte County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Vianello and faculty board attorney Michael McKinley. Claudette Smith, the district’s public information officer, emphasized in an email that it was “created by a staff member as a summary or recap of the conversation that that they had with [the pair].” “The statements in blue aren’t direct quotes and our assumptions or summarizations that the staff member took from that conversation, after which drafted this document,” Smith said.

An issue in daring reads: “Are we removing books from any school or media center, Prek-12, if a personality has, for instance, two moms or because there may be a gay best friend or a predominant character is gay?” The response in blue reads: “Yes.” “These characters and themes cannot exist,” reads the blue text in one other section.

The USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida sent the district a listing of questions that were largely ignored. An issue about what books were removed was referred to its public records process. But Smith said books with LGBTQ characters and themes are being kept in highschool libraries, backpedaling on the July document. “In highschool library media centers (grades 9-12), books with these themes aren’t for use for instruction unless the instruction is age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for college kids in accordance with state standards,” she wrote. That is not the case for the lower grade levels.

Florida is the nation’s book banning leader, in response to national free speech group. In compliance with state law and state board rule, we don’t make books available in media centers that serve Kindergarten through eighth grade classrooms,” Smith said. “This is able to be considered ‘classroom instruction’ and such instruction and/or availability of those themes is prohibited for these students.”

Mr. Vianello stands firm on providing an inclusive and celebratory environment for all students while adhering to all State Statutes and has not ordered a purge of all books with characters and themes you’re questioning contrary to statutes we’re obligated to abide by.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican lawmakers have passed multiple laws in recent times triggering a surge of book restrictions and removals across the state. They’ve created wildly-varying interpretations by confused school districts on what books needs to be faraway from their shelves. One in all those laws is not even about school books, apparently. The Parental Rights in Education Act, or “Don’t Say Gay,” was first signed into law in 2022 and expanded this 12 months. It prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity. Various school districts have taken that to mean certain books with LGBTQ characters and themes needs to be faraway from school and classroom libraries. Books removed by some districts citing the law include “And Tango Makes Three,” a kid’s picture book about two male penguins who forge a family together.

But Attorney General Moody, in legal filings, has said that is incorrect. “The State has consistently maintained before two federal courts (three, including this one) that HB 1557’s plain language restricts only ‘classroom instruction’ and ‘doesn’t even arguably restrict library books,'” wrote Moody in an August motion to throw out a lawsuit filed due to an “And Tango Makes Three” removal in Lake County schools. Moody’s office didn’t reply to a media request for this story. Listening to Moody, Lake County’s school district put the book back on its shelves.

The Palm Beach County School District modified its book policies after PEN America and other book access advocacy groups brought attention to Moody’s legal filings. But not every school district has followed suit. For instance, Escambia County’s school district, which can also be being sued, still has “And Tango Makes Three” listed as “removed” on an internet site list. District spokesperson Cody Strother declined to verify that, citing the litigation. Meanwhile, Pen America and other groups are urging Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. and his department to pass guidance on to Florida’s 67 counties. That sort of message can be so much harder to miss than individual filings in lengthy lawsuits, said PEN America’s Meehan. “There was numerous confusion from districts in Florida on what this laws covers,” Meehan said. “While districts and lots of others have been really asking the Florida Department of Ed to supply guidance, that guidance has been lacking.”

Advertisementspot_img

Continue reading

Florida Softball’s SEC Tournament Win Hints at Potential WCWS Appearance: Recent Trends Suggest Gators’ Success

Could Florida softball's win within the SEC tournament be a superb omen for the upcoming Women's College World Series? The Gators have qualified for the Women's College World...

Michigan Democrats Call for Review of Signatures Submitted by Republican Senate Candidates

The Michigan Democratic Party and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Friday asked state election officials to research whether three Republican U.S Senate candidates and one other who has left the race submitted forged or otherwise fraudulent signatures on...

The Pros and Cons of the 12-Team College Football Playoff for Tennessee, Florida, and LSU | Toppmeyer

Seeing a rival win the national championship was nauseating enough. Seeing 4 rivals make the expanded College Football Playoff can be worse. ...