“Attacks on Our Freedom”: Bible and LGBTQ Books Challenged in Florida School District

A Florida school district has returned the Bible to school library shelves after temporarily removing it when someone complained about its sexually graphic material.

Conservative Groups Are Against the Books

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Of course, there are many examples of sexually explicit language and themes in the Bible.

In communities across the U.S. over the past year, conservative groups have increasingly tried to vet the books made available in schools and public libraries.

Critics Target LGBTQ Teen Books

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Specifically, they have targeted books that explore LGBTQ teens’ sexuality, seeking to strip them from the shelves of youth library sections.

Even the Bible Was Targeted

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In response, defenders of the 1st Amendment in those communities have rallied to block such challenges.

They have rhetorically argued that if LGBTQ books are too sexually explicit for kids, then so, too, are many other books, including the Bible.

More Than Just a Book

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Within the context of this national debate, the Volusia County Schools case in Deland, Fla., marks a significant milestone. It represents the first documented instance of someone formally challenging the Bible.

The district said that state law required it to pull the Bible from school shelves in response to the challenge but also supported quickly returning “the Good Book” to the libraries.

Challenges Book for Fair Material Selection

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“I wouldn’t say it’s just to prove a point,” Christina Quinn, who filed the challenge with the district, told Fox 35 News.

“It is basically saying ‘What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,’ so we can’t pick some and not pick others when they both have similar material.”

31 Books Face Challenges

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The district told Fox 35 News that 31 books have been formally challenged this year. Of those, 15 titles have been removed, and reviews are still pending on the rest.

Advocating the Return of the Bible to School Libraries

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“It was kind of shocking that they would even think about taking a historical piece of evidence for history classes or literature out of our reach and out of our curriculum,” high school junior Hannah Harger told the news outlet.

She had gathered more than 1,000 petition signatures advocating the return of the Bible to the schools’ libraries.

Growing National Trend

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Over the past two years, well-funded local and national conservative groups have coordinated their efforts to remove certain materials from libraries.

Their focus is predominantly on banning books that explore LGBTQ and sexual issues, specifically from the youth sections of libraries or from libraries’ total collections. 

Parental Rights In Book Restrictions

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They have argued the issue is one of parental rights, saying that parents should have the final say over keeping sexually explicit books away from their children at school.

They claim that they are equally passionate about this issue, whether the material touches on heterosexual or LGBTQ sexual themes.

LGBTQ Kids Need Trusted Info

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However, their critics contend that they predominantly focus on challenging LGBTQ literature.

Supporters of the books counter that kids who are LGBTQ often don’t have an adult they can trust to provide them with such information, making these books a critical resource.

LGBTQ Kids Need Trusted Info

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They also worry about the precedent that book banning would set for a society that depends on freedom.

Book Challenges Soar

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From January 1 through August 31, challenges were filed against 1,915 books in the U.S.

This marks a 20% increase from the same period in 2022, a year that saw the most challenges in the 20 years that the American Library Association has tracked the statistics, according to the ALA.

Book Challenges Soar 20% in 2023

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Most of the books were written by or about a person of color or someone who was LGBTQ.

Attacks on Reading Freedom Threaten Constitutional Rights

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“These attacks on our freedom to read should trouble every person who values liberty and our constitutional rights,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

“To allow a group of people or any individual no matter how powerful or loud, to become the decision-maker about what books we can read or whether libraries exist is to place all of our rights and liberties in jeopardy.”

Read More: The Censorship is Real — Top 10 Banned Books in Schools And Libraries

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Recent trends show a shift in how books are banned. Now, instead of a specific book or two getting challenged, entire swaths of books are getting pulled off the shelves. The focus seems to be primarily on filtering out LGBTQ+ topics or works that discuss race.

Read Now: The Censorship is Real — Top 10 Banned Books in Schools And Libraries

Read More: The Worst Things Teachers Have Confiscated

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Teachers have seen it all. So we asked them: what was the worst thing they had ever confiscated from a student?

Their answers would be enough to put you off the teaching career for life.

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To a child, parents’ rules and restrictions may seem arbitrary and controlling. While the occasional rule might be strict, hindsight usually reveals that—more often than not—a parent’s intuition was right.

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Read More: Teaching or Chatting?

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Did you know that up to 45% of all Americans have a side gig? Do you?

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When Mom’s away, Dad and son will play.

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This article has been produced by TPR Teaching.

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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