ORLANDO, Fla. — A new Florida law that supporters say will promote curriculum transparency and parent choice, is drawing ire from LGBTQ+ activists as an avenue for book banning.

What You Need To Know

  • A new Florida law requires all instructional materials be made available for review before a school district decides them and gives parents the opportunity to object

  • Co-founder of Florida Freedom to Read Project calls it an avenue to ban LGBTQ+ and BIPOC books

  • Supporters say it’s about parent choice, curriculum transparency

The law requires all instructional materials, including school library books, be made available for review before a school district decides to include them and gives parents the opportunity to object to any materials.

According to the law, the instructional materials must be accessible at least 20 days before the district takes any action, and each district school board must “provide a reasonable opportunity for public comment.”

Jen Cousins, an Orange County mother of four, is against this new law. She co-founded the Florida Freedom to Read Project after district leadership in Orange County pulled the memoir Gender Queer from school libraries to be reviewed.

Cousin’s second-born is non-binary and relates to the book.

Cousins said the books parents have called inappropriate at prior school board meetings center on the LGBTQ+ community and people of color.

“When you censor books with themes like these, these books are lifesavers to some people,” she said. “Not everybody comes from an accepting or inclusive family.”

Rebecca Sarwi, a Volusia County mother of two who chose to homeschool her kids after disagreements with the district, feels the law can’t come soon enough. She was by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ side when he recently signed it into law.

“We just have to get back to teaching the reading, writing, arithmetic,” she said. “That’s the thing most parents want to send their kids to school for, not these other social, emotional learning things where ideas are being put into their minds.”

The new law goes into effect on July 1 and will require school librarians and others who choose the library materials complete a new training program “before reviewing and selecting age-appropriate materials.” 

Under the law, the Florida Department of Education is required to publish a list of materials that have been removed or discontinued by school boards as a result of objections and disseminate that list to school districts for their consideration.