Gov. Ron DeSantis Enacts Limits on Book Challenges in Florida Schools

Ron DeSantis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill aimed at curbing the number of book challenges within the state’s school districts. This move comes less than a year after a law was enacted resulting in the removal of numerous books from public school shelves. Effective July 1, the new legislation restricts Florida residents without children enrolled in a district from objecting to more than one material per month. However, parents with children in Florida schools remain unrestricted in their ability to file challenges, with no specified penalty for violations.

Ron DeSantis Explains Book Ban

Acknowledging concerns about excessive removals, Governor DeSantis highlighted instances where the transparency of curriculum decisions was exploited for political ends. The bill’s enactment follows a surge in book bans across Florida, accounting for the highest number of bans nationwide in the first half of the 2023-2024 school year. Notably, a significant portion of these bans occurred within the Escambia County Public Schools, prompting legal action.

DeSantis has adamantly denied claims of statewide book banning, yet tensions persist in school board meetings, reflecting a broader debate over parental rights and educational content. A previous law signed by DeSantis restricted sexual education and discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in certain grade levels, empowering citizens to petition for the removal of objectionable material.

PEN America, an advocacy group, warns that book bans disproportionately target narratives involving race, sexual orientation, and gender identity, posing a threat to free expression and educational integrity. Florida leads the nation in book bans, with other states like Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, Kentucky, and Virginia also reporting significant numbers of banned books, primarily addressing themes of sex, abortion, rape, race, and LGBTQ+ issues.