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Education

Polk County Public Schools remove 16 books from libraries after complaint they conflict with values

blurred rows of library shelves with books
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The county removed the literature from its schools after receiving a complaint in 2021 from a group called County Citizens Defending Freedom that the books may conflict with values.

The books have not been banned, but removed for the time being, while a thorough review of each piece takes place, according to the district.

Across the country, curriculum and reading materials in public schools are under great scrutiny.

Polk County Public Schools removed 16 books from its libraries last week. The district is now evaluating whether the books violate Florida Statute 847.012 which prohibits the distribution of harmful materials to minors.

District spokesman Jason Geary said the county removed the literature from its schools after receiving a complaint in 2021 from a group called County Citizens Defending Freedom. He said the concerns stemmed from whether the books are harmful because they conflict with values.

Geary said the books — which include modern classics like The Kite Runner and Beloved — will be reviewed at the district-level.

Typically, when parents or community members challenge books and curriculum, the school forms a committee of district curriculum staff, literacy/ELA staff, media specialists, parents and community members, Geary wrote. But because some of these books are found in multiple libraries, the review will happen at the district level.

He said Superintendent Frederick Heid acted to protect staff from potential criminal charges during the review. Geary says the books have not been banned, but removed for the time being, while a thorough review of each piece takes place.

Similarly, Pinellas County Schools removed a graphic novel called "Gender Queer: A Memoir" from circulation at two of its schools late last year, saying it was not age-appropriate for all high school students.

The full list of books under the district’s review includes:

  • Two Boys Kissing 
  • Beloved
  • The Kite Runner 
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 
  • Thirteen Reasons Why
  • The Vincent Boys
  • Real Live Boyfriends 
  • It’s Perfectly Normal
  • George 
  • I am Jazz
  • Drama
  • More Happy Than Not
  • Nineteen Minutes
  • The Bluest Eye
  • Tricks
  • Almost Perfect
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