DeSantis calls Florida's book bans a 'hoax,' defends his decision to reject African American course
Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed back Wednesday on what he says is a “hoax” from news outlets claiming the state is banning mass amounts books from school libraries and classrooms.
DeSantis started the news conference in Tampa by showing some of the pages from the books that had been flagged.
The video shows images from books like "Flamer," "Let's Talk About It," and "Gender Queer," which contain sexual images and conversations about sexuality that DeSantis says is inappropriate for children in Florida schools.
"I think if we had the entire state of Florida somehow either sitting in here watching that, I don't think there'll be very many people who honest-to-goodness believes that what was up there is appropriate for our schools," DeSantis said.
He said of the 175 books removed across the state, 87% of them were “identified as pornographic, violent or inappropriate for their grade level.”
DeSantis also said the removal of books on prominent minority figures like Roberto Clemente and Hank Aaron in certain districts was done for political reasons and not due to state guidelines.
“That's a false narrative that they're trying to do,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis also once again pushed back on criticism the state faced after rejecting an AP African American Studies course, saying the topics focused on critical race theory and Marxism.
“What they would say then, is because this ideologically driven course was not something that met our standards, that somehow Florida prohibited teaching anything about Black history,” DeSantis said. “And that is not only not true, [but] Florida law does the opposite. We require that all the aspects from the colonies all the way to the present.”
A prepared document shared with media members outlined the issues that the Florida Department of Education had with the course:
- Intersectionality and Activism — the document states “Intersectionality is foundational to CRT, and ranks people based on their race, wealth, gender and sexual orientation.
DeSantis was joined by several supporters and state officials, including State Education Secretary Manny Diaz and Hillsborough School Board member Stacy Hahn.
Hahn says she's been pushing to keep certain books off school bookshelves that she believes are inappropriate in the district for the past year.
"It is very difficult to be in the minority on a school board,” Hahn said. “As much as I fight, I have one vote. So that's a lot of the times that is why you see Hillsborough County on lists where these books can be found."
DeSantis also defended a Florida state law that says that a teacher with a book that contains pornography and sexual material in the classroom could face a third-degree felony, saying that law has been in place for years.
“When they're citing that law acting like somehow that's chilling … it's been the law for a long time,” DeSantis said. “I don't think it's ever been appropriate in the history of Florida for adults to be providing pornography to minors.”
This comes after school districts like Manatee County, Duval County, and others across the state have caught national headlines for stripping books from their classroom libraries and media centers, as they work with media specialists to make sure the books meet Florida education laws.
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