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Poet Amanda Gorman criticizes book ban effort in Florida targeting Biden’s inauguration poem

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(NEW YORK) — After news broke that Amanda Gorman’s historic poem “The Hill We Climb” was moved to the middle school section of a Miami-Dade school, the poet slammed efforts to restrict or censor books in schools.

“I’m gutted,” she said in a statement posted to her social media accounts.

She continued, “I wrote The Hill We Climb so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment … Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech.”

Documents obtained via a public records request by the activist group Florida Freedom to Read Project found that a complaint by one parent targeted several books concerning Black history — including “The Hill We Climb,” “The ABCs of Black History,” and “Love to Langston.” The School Materials Review Committee recommended these three books be shelved in the middle school section of the media center.

The complaint said the poem “indirectly” contained “hate messages” and believed it could “cause confusion and indoctrinate students.” “Critical race theory” and “indoctrination” were cited as reasons behind the complaints of the other books.

Two books on Cuba were also targeted by the parent, who cited “indoctrination about socialism” in their complaint.

In a statement, Miami-Dade County said Gorman’s poem was not banned or removed from their schools, assuring that the book remains available in the media center as part of the middle grades collection.

The Miami Herald first reported the story.

In 2022, the American Library Association documented a record-breaking number of reported book ban attempts across the country. The organization found 1,269 demands to censor or restrict library materials or resources, the highest total since it began compiling this data more than 20 years ago. More than 2,571 unique titles were targeted, with the majority of the books being written by or about LGBTQ characters or people of color.

Penguin Random House, one of the country’s largest book publishers which also published Gorman’s poem, is part of a lawsuit targeting a separate Florida school district for removing certain books from the shelves of public school libraries.

The lawsuit argues that the school board’s removal and restriction of books that discuss racism and have LGBTQ themes violates the First Amendment.

Florida has been at the center of the clashes in education, as recent legislation has led to restrictions and removals of books across the state.

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