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Florida School Bans Poem Recited by Amanda Gorman at Biden’s Inauguration

The Florida school's 'censorship' of the inauguration poetry has drawn criticism from the White House and advocates

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

UNITED STATES: A Florida school has restricted elementary students from reading several books in its library, including “The Hills We Climb”, the poem penned and recited by Amanda Gorman at Joe Biden’s inauguration as president.

Only middle school pupils at the Bob Graham Education Centre in Miami Lakes, Florida, will now have access to the poem, as reported by The Miami Herald.

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Gorman, 25, said she was “gutted” to find that her inaugural poetry had been banned from the Bob Graham Education Centre in Miami Lakes as a result of a single parent’s complaint.

The poem was one of five books challenged by a parent of a student at the school, along with books about Cuba and The ABCs of Black History.

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In the complaint, the parent mistakenly listed Oprah Winfrey as the writer of The Hill We Climb and stated she objected to the poem as it was “not educational and has indirectly hate messages”.

Poet Gorman responded in a long social media post, “So they ban my book from young readers, confuse me with Oprah, fail to specify what parts of my poetry they object to, refuse to read any reviews, and offer no alternatives… Unnecessary book bans like these are on the rise, and we must fight back,” she stated.

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The author invited followers to donate to the writer’s organisation PEN America, which she said had teamed up with her publisher, Penguin Random House, to file a lawsuit opposing book restrictions in Florida.

“Robbering children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech,” said Gorman.

Book bans have gushed in the wake of a string of legislation signed by the Republican governor, Ron DeSantis,who is preparing to run for president.

The most recent law, passed earlier this month, mandates that schools remove books right away in response to a single parent’s complaint. 565 books were reportedly banned in Florida schools during the 2021–22 academic year.

The parent who filed the complaint was identified as Daily Salinas, who has two children enrolled at Bob Graham.

She stated that she was “not for eliminating or censoring any books” but wanted educational materials to be appropriate for kids.

On Tuesday, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools confirmed that the book had been taken out of the primary school section of a library that was used by both middle school students and pupils in lower grades.

The school district posted a statement on Twitter that read, “The Hill We Climb” by @TheAmandaGorman was never banned or removed from one of our schools. The book is available in the media centre as part of the middle grade collection.”

“The Hill We Climb”, was written so that all young people would see themselves in a historical moment, and the president and his administration certainly stand with her,” Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Press Secretary, said at a briefing on Wednesday. “Banning books is censorship, period,” she stated, adding that “it limits American freedom.”

The complaint and ensuing decision to move the book are the most recent instances of efforts in Florida and other Republican-led states to limit students’ access to books that discuss African American history, racial issues, or LGBTQ rights.

Last year, the Every Library Institute commissioned a study that revealed the overwhelming opposition to book banning among Americans and their willingness to take it into account when casting their votes.

The American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom recorded the highest number of book bans in 2022 since it started keeping track of attempted book bans more than 20 years ago.

In response to “censorship efforts that undermine our Constitution and threaten our democracy,” ALA Executive Director Tracie Hall said that the organisation would have Gorman appear as the keynote speaker at its annual conference.

Additionally, the Ron DeSantis administration in Florida rejected some of a proposed new Advanced Placement course in African American studies for high schools and prohibited the teaching of critical race theory, a university-level approach to discussing systemic racism in the legal system, in some college courses.

Also Read: Florida’s Governor Signs Sweeping Anti-ESG Legislation 

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