Penguin Random House, PEN America, authors and parents are suing a Florida school district in an effort to make sexually explicit books available to students.
“Books are being ordered removed from libraries, or subject to restricted access within those libraries, based on an ideologically driven campaign to push certain ideas out of schools,” the lawsuit alleged. “Further, the School Board is ordering the removal against the recommendations of experts within the School District. This disregard for professional guidance underscores that the agendas underlying the removals are ideological and political, not pedagogical.”
Since May 2022, Escambia County School District has allegedly removed five books including “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” “Two Boys Kissing,” a book about two teenage boys trying to break the world record for kissing, “When Aidan Became a Brother,” a picture book about a little girl realizing she is a boy, “Out of Darkness,” which depicts sexually explicit scenes, and “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding,” a story about child accepting that her uncle is marrying another man, the lawsuit showed. The five authors of the books are listed as plaintiffs on the lawsuit.
The district has allegedly removed “The Kite Runner” which features rape and suicide attempts, “Milo Imagines the World,” a picture book about discovering cultural stereotypes, “Slaughterhouse-Five,” a book that features animals being brutally killed, “Push,” a story that features rape, and “The Bluest Eye.”
“This lawsuit brings together authors whose books have been removed or restricted and parents and students in the district who cannot access the books, in a first of its kind challenge to unlawful censorship,” PEN America wrote in a press release. “Ensuring that students have access to books on a wide range of topics and that express a diversity of viewpoints is a core function of public education — preparing students to be thoughtful and engaged citizens.”
PEN America confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation on May 12 that the organization’s 2021-2022 “Index of School Book Bans” includes books that are no longer banned or were never banned in the first place. The Heritage Foundation found that 74% of the 2,532 books listed on PEN America’s report are still available in schools.
In January, the Florida Department of Education approved a rule that requires librarians to go through training on what material is sexually explicit and “harmful to minors” out of schools. The training requires that librarians include parents in “all aspects” of choosing materials that are held in school libraries.
Escambia County School District declined to comment and the attorney’s for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.