Florida has become the latest Republican-controlled state to break ties with the American Library Association over disputes regarding youth access to sexually explicit books.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Division of Library and Information Services announced that the state will not give the ALA or its Florida chapter any grants for the rest of the year, according to Fox News.
Recently, tensions between the national nonprofit and Florida officials have flared up over attempts by conservative groups to have sexually explicit books pulled from library youth shelves. Three Florida counties, Hernando, Citrus, and Collier, already have ended their ALA memberships.
“(Florida Library Association) believes that this limitation will hurt Florida libraries’ ability to serve our residents,” Jenny Abdelnour, executive director of the FLA, wrote in an email sent to members, according to Politico.
Conservatives Challenging More Library Titles
It’s a scenario that has increasingly played out across the nation over the past two years. Well-funded and politically active conservative groups have orchestrated a campaign to pressure school, academic, and public libraries to remove large numbers of books at a time.
Before last year, the vast majority of book challenges were brought by individual parents and only involved one title, according to the ALA.
The ALA has vigorously opposed the trend, citing First Amendment concerns, and noted that these library resource challenges have largely focused on books for LGBTQ youth and people of color. The organization documented 1,269 attempts nationally to challenge library resources last year, nearly doubling the 729 challenges in 2021.
Supporters of the books counter that because kids who are LGBTQ often don’t have an adult they can trust to provide them with information about sex, these books are a critical resource.
Additionally, the red states of Texas, Montana, Missouri, Wyoming, and Alabama have also terminated their membership with the ALA. Texas withdrew from the ALA after its State Representative, Brian Harrison, accused the organization of promoting Marxism.
“If Ms. Drabinski wants to push socialism and Marxist ideology, she can do it on her own dime,” Harrison told Fox News. “I’m fed up with overtaxed Texans being forced to fund government tyranny and the indoctrination of their children.”
Harrison was referring to Emily Drabisnki, the ALA’s president. When she was elected to the role in April 2022, Drabinski tweeted, “I just cannot believe that a Marxist lesbian who believes that collective power is possible to build and can be wielded for a better world is the president-elect of @ALALibrary.”
She continued, “I am so excited for what we will do together. Solidarity! And my mom is SO PROUD. I love you mom.”
Drabinski has since deleted the post, but not before it rippled through conservative parts of the U.S., prompting numerous states to cut ties with the ALA. In July, Montana was the first of those right-leaning states to do so.
“Our oath of office and resulting duty to the Constitution forbids association with an organization led by a Marxist,” the Montana State Library Commission said in a letter to the ALA after making the decision, Fox News reported.
In a prepared statement, Montana’s superintendent of public instruction, Elsie Arntzen condemned the ALA’s move.
“By electing a declared Marxist as their President, the ALA has not only turned its back on families, parental rights, and American values – it has turned its back on America itself,” Arntzen said.
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This article has been produced by TPR Teaching. Featured Image: Juli Hansen / Shutterstock.com.
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.