A Florida school district placed an advisory notice on 115 books, including works that include LGBTQ characters or content, in accordance with Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.
The Collier County School District has placed advisory notices on both online and physical copies of the books in response to parental concerns about their content.
The advisory states: “This book has been identified by some community members as unsuitable for students,” and adds that the decision of whether or not a book is suitable should be determined by a student’s parents.
Although it does not prevent students from checking out certain titles from Collier County’s libraries, the advisory is visible to parents, who can choose to monitor the books their children have taken through an online portal provided by the district.
The books that have been flagged include works with LGBTQ characters, especially transgender characters, books dealing with race or racism, books that contain sexual content, and even picture books for children dealing with potentially controversial issues.
At least 62 of the 115 flagged books have LGBTQ or transgender characters or themes, while nearly one-third have protagonists or secondary characters of color, reports the Naples Daily News. (The full list of books appears at the bottom of this post.)
The district says the advisories were placed on the books in February and March, in order to comply with the state’s Parental Bill of Rights law. Also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, it requires parents to be informed about anything dealing with their children’s education or well-being.
Significantly, the law prohibits LGBTQ-related instruction in primary grades, as well as older grades, if the material is deemed to not be “age or developmentally appropriate.”
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis also signed another bill into law earlier this year that gives parents and members of the public increased access to the process of how districts select which instructional materials, including library and reading materials, are available to their children in school.
Some of the books have also been flagged by conservative activists or parents’ groups that have expressed concerns about some of the topics contained in the books, as part of a nationwide backlash against LGBTQ content and so-called “critical race theory.”
The Florida Citizens Alliance, a nonprofit that has railed against “woke” ideology, LGBTQ content, and racially-tinged topics being discussed in classrooms, previously demanded the removal of 58 books it had declared “pornographic,” most of which were books with LGBTQ characters.
There are myriad reasons why certain titles ultimately ended up on the list of 115 titles needing advisory labels.
For example, the book Thirteen Reasons Why has been banned in some other school systems over concerns about sexually explicit content, vulgar language, and allegedly “glamorizing” teen suicide.
The graphic novel Gender Queer has been flagged for pictures and content that are sexually explicit, as well as for broaching the issues of transgender identity and gender dysphoria.
At the same time, Collier County Public Schools sent out a statement clarifying that it has not removed any books from its media centers, saying the district is “mindful of and concerned with protecting the rights of all students and employees.”
Collier County has established a committee to vet books that get flagged by parents as inappropriate for children or certain grade levels, to ensure compliance with the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Parents will be allowed to demand a book be removed or censored if they fill out a form and submit it to the district. The committee will then review the book in question.
The committee will be comprised of two parents, a community member, a certified media specialist, an English Language Arts staff member, a district English Language Arts representative, an expert in child development, and a school or district administrator.
In 2021, the National Library Association reported more than 729 attempted bans of nearly 1,600 different books — marking more than any time in history since it began tracking attempts at censorship more than 20 years.
According to PEN America, a nonprofit that works to protect free expression through literature, 204 books were banned in seven Florida counties — Brevard, Clay, Flagler, Indian River, Orange, Pinellas, and Polk — over an eight-month period from July 2021 to March 2022. That tally makes Florida the state with the third-largest number of school book bans, after Texas and Pennsylvania.
Jonathan Friedman, the director of free expression and education programs at PEN America, says he’s never seen a district place this many advisories on so many books, which he fears could lead readers to avoid reading certain works that others have deemed objectionable, out of fear of social ostracization.
“I think we just need to understand that this isn’t the result of librarians reviewing these books to my knowledge carefully or in a considered manner,” Friedman told the Naples Daily News. “That isn’t the result of an internal library process. It’s the result of a political pressure campaign to force the district to comply with one group’s objectives and ideology.
“Many of these books are children’s books,” he added. “They are books about families, they are books with simple stories. The other books are might be more complicated or more mature. But you’re basically saying that this one group gets a kind of final say more important than what’s already described on a dust jacket.”
Here’s the full list of 115 flagged books:
The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
The ABC’s of LGBT by Ashley Mardell
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Alexie
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike Lyimide
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Another Day by David Levithan
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann
Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
A Bad Boy Can Be Good For a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
Beautiful by Amy Reed
Being Transgender by Robert Rodi and Laura Ross
Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
Birthday by Meredith Russo
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The Breakaways by Cathy G Johnson
Breathless by Jennifer Niven
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Mass
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss
Dead End by Jason Myers
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Doin’ it: Juicy central #8 by Ayshia Monroe
Doing it by Hannah Witten
Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens
Embrace by Jessica Shirvington
Every Day by David Levithan
Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers
Exit Here by Jason Myers
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything by E. Lockart
Forever By Judy Blume
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Haters by Jesse Andrews
How to Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X
I am Jazz by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Hertherl
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Identical by Ellen Hopkins
If I was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
The Infinitive Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle
It Feels Good to Be Yourself by Theresa Thorn
It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura
Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
The Kite Runner Graphic Novel by Kahaled Hosseini
L8R G8R by Lauren Myracle
Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Lexicon by Max Berry
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Lush by Natasha Friend
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany Jackson
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Odd One Out by Nic Stone
Once and Future by A.R. Capetta
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Perfect by Ellen Hopkins
Pet by Emezi Akwaeke
A Phoenix First Must Burn by Patrice Caldwell
Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack
Rabbit is Rich by John Updike
Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart
Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
Rift by Andrea Cremer
Seeing Gender by Iris Gottlieb
Sex: A Book For Teens by Nikol Hasler
Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
Something Happened in Our Town by Marianne Celano
Sparkle Boy by Leslie Newman
Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X
Stamped from the Beginning by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus
They Both Die At the End by Adam Silvera
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
Traffick by Ellen Hopkins
Triangles by Ellen Hopkins
Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathiew
TTFN by Lauren Myracle
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Unpregnant by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan
Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
What Girls Are Made Of by Eleno K. Arnold
When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff
Wide Awake by David Levithan
The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins
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