Florida book bans: 5 surprising books pulled from school libraries – Tallahassee Democrat

The Florida Department of Education released a list of all the books removed from school library shelves last year, and some of the titles might be surprising.
In total, Florida saw 386 book removals from 1,218 total objections last year, according to the list. Clay County had by far the most removals with 177 books removed. Martin County removed the second most books in the state with 98 books removed, followed by Manatee County in third with 25 books removed.
Books like “And Tango Makes Three,” Toni Morisson’s “The Bluest Eye,” and “Push” by Sapphire have made headlines for their removal, as parents have objected to their content for violating the Parental Rights in Education act, also known as “Don’t Say Gay,” or for containing material that is considered “sexual content” under House Bill 1069.
But also removed from school libraries, according to the list, are a book about a mammal from Asia and one of the most famous artists of all time.
Here are five books removed from schools and the reasons why they were taken off the shelves:
“Ready Player One” was removed from all Clay County School District libraries, according to a spreadsheet from the district, after it was reviewed by a committee of parents, librarians and principals.
The science fiction novel by Ernest Cline, published in 2011, was removed from K-12 shelves for mentioning prostitution, drugs and using profane language, according to the request form.
The book’s film adaptation, released in 2018 and rated PG-13, was directed by Steven Spielberg and nominated for an Academy Award.
The requester, a man affiliated with “No Left Turn in Education,” wrote his reasoning for flagging the book was to “PROTECT CHILDREN!! (sic)”
The requester said the book included “victimhood=CRT,” on page 320; prostitution references; drugs and pills on page 270; and profanity, including the F-word.
Under the question for what the requester believes will be the result of a student reading the material, the man wrote “Damaged Souls.”
Manatee County officials also removed “Christian, the Hugging Lion” by Justin Richardson, a 32-page children’s book about two men who raise a lion named Christian in a London apartment. When Christian becomes too big, the two men release the lion into the wild in Africa. When the men go to visit Christian in Africa, they find that he remembers them. The book is based on a true story.
The district cited The Parental Rights in Education Act as the reason for removing the book from district libraries. The Parental Rights in Education Act has a line prohibiting the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms.
While the two men, John and Ace, lived together in London and raised Christian the lion, it is never explicitly said in the book whether the two men were in a relationship.
The authors of “Christian, the Hugging Lion” were also the authors of “And Tango Makes Three”, a children’s book about two male penguins raising a family. The authors are already suing Florida and a county school in federal court over restrictions on the book.
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“Michelangelo (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists)” by Mike Venezia is a children’s book about the Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo, detailing some of his famous sculptures and paintings.
Manatee County district officials removed the book from libraries citing Florida Statute 847.012, titled “Obscenity,” and involves the sale or distribution of harmful materials to minors.
In early 2023, a Tallahassee charter school principal was asked to resign after among other issues, a parent complained a Renaissance art lesson that included Michelangelo’s “David” was pornographic.
Tallahassee Classical School, a charter school in the Leon County School District, was dropped from being a Hillsdale College-affiliated campus after news of the principal’s ousting went viral.
“To set the record straight: This drama around teaching Michelangelo’s ‘David’ sculpture, one of the most important works of art in existence, has become a distraction from, and a parody of, the actual aims of classical education. Of course, Hillsdale’s K-12 art curriculum includes Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and other works of art that depict the human form,” Hillsdale stated in a press release.
Manatee County officials removed “What on Earth is a Pangolin?” by Edward R. Ricciuti, a 32-page children’s book about Pangolins as part of the “What on Earth” series on obscure wildlife. Pangolins are scaly, anteater-like mammals native to Asia and Africa, and are the most trafficked mammal in the world, according to the World Wildlife Foundation.
Manatee County removed the book from district libraries, citing Florida Statute 1006.40(3)(d). However, section (3)(d) does not appear to exist under Florida Statute 1006.40, which is titled “Purchase of instructional materials.”
When asked for clarity and for a full copy of the objection, Manatee County did not respond in time for publication.
Florida Virtual School removed a National Geographic article called “Will we ever grow organs?” from a digital anatomy and physiology course, according to a FLVS spokesperson.
The request to remove the article came from a teacher who teaches the course in a school that licenses the class from FLVS.
The teacher raised concerns about the doctor profiled in the article, Paolo Macchiarini. Macchiarini was sentenced to two years and six months in prison this past June after he was found guilty of gross assault.
While the 2012 article touts Macchiarini’s work building windpipes out of stem cells, a Swedish court said the surgeon “acted with criminal intent” by transplanting trachea into three patients, who all died when the implants failed, between 2011 and 2012.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to remove the article referenced from the new version of the course,” said FLVS spokesperson Hailey Fitch.


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