Escambia County School District versus Our Human Rights
February 7, 2024
In May 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 1069 – a plainly pro-censorship, anti-sexual freedom, and anti-student bill – into law. Among the law’s many problematic provisions is its censorship directed at libraries, including school libraries. It confers upon residents the right to demand the removal of any book that “depicts or describes sexual conduct.”
To attempt compliance with HB 1069, Escambia County School District directed librarians to review their holdings using a checklist that included directions like checking the books out using CommonSense Media, Book Looks, and Google Books for ratings related to sex, romance, and nudity or violence and scariness, or terms related to sexual conduct. Using this checklist, more than 2,800 books were removed for additional screening. These books included several dictionaries, along with books like Ann Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl and Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Books meant to help readers understand sexual assault, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections are also off the shelves. The list goes on and on.
It is as dystopian as it is absurd to know that at their own school, Florida children can no longer freely access classic texts, reference materials, and books about their health and well-being. We at the Woodhull Freedom Foundation see book bans like HB 1069 for what they are: unconscionable, indefensible attacks on our human rights. Laws that codify moral panic about sex and sexuality into a far-reaching, punitive censorship regime have no place in our democracy.