Metro Weekly

A Florida County Finds These 115 Books Objectionable

Collier County slapped an advisory label on books, including LGBTQ titles, to comply with Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law.

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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