The move has been publicly opposed by the American Library Association, calling the free exchange of ideas “essential to the preservation of a free and democratic society.”
Novels, graphic novels, autobiographies, and sex education books have been placed “in quarantine” and will not be available for checkout for an undetermined time in Polk area middle and high schools.
This comes after County Citizens Defending Freedom, a conservative political group, complained to Superintendent Frederick Heid that these books are pornographic in nature and could be in violation of a Florida statute (847.012) which deals with distributing obscene or harmful content to children.
A Polk County Public School spokesperson said the books are not banned, but have been removed so “a thorough, thoughtful review of their content can take place.”
The books in question include a sex education book that uses illustrations to portray couples having sex, including straight and LGBTQ people, an illustrated book about a transgender girl, and novels by well-known authors like Toni Morrison and Jodi Picoult.
The Books in Question:
Last year, the American Library Association reported “a dramatic uptick in book challenges and outright removal” from libraries of books that focus on LGBTQ, intersex, asexual, and agender issues, along with books by Black authors or that document the experience of people of color.
“We stand opposed to censorship and any effort to coerce belief, suppress opinion, or punish those whose expression does not conform to what is deemed to be orthodox in history, politics, or belief. The unfettered exchange of ideas is essential to the preservation of a free and democratic society,” it said in a statement published on its website.
The Polk County School spokesperson said that committee members must read each book. For this reason, a timeline of when a final decision would be made is not available at this time.