DeSantis Signs Bill Requiring Florida Schools to Disclose Reading Materials to the Public

Photo by Anita Jankovic on Unsplash
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Amid national controversy over sexually explicit books available to children in public school libraries, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed legislation requiring schools to disclose reading material to the public.

This comes on the heels of DeSantis’ declaration that 2022 is the “Year of the Parent” in Florida, with the passage of the controversial Parental Rights in Education bill which restricts teachers from sexuality instruction for younger elementary school-aged children and was nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” by critics.

Parental rights in education has been an electrifying political issue over the last year, with heated school board meetings revealing the full extent of parents’ consternation over COVID-19 policies, divisive and highly ideological lessons on race and American history, and explicit sexuality education for some of the youngest of students.

One particularly viral issue is the presence of graphic reading material available in high school libraries, such as the book “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe which chronicles the author’s youth and includes graphic depictions of sexual encounters, fantasies, and illustrations of pedophilic sex.

Another book, “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison features a character who reveals in a conversation that he had sexual relations with an adult man when he was just a child.

“In Florida, our parents have every right to be involved in their child’s education,” DeSantis said in a statement, as reported by The Daily Wire. “We are not going to let politicians deny parents the right to know what is being taught in our schools. I’m proud to sign this legislation that ensures curriculum transparency.”

The bill requires schools to keep meetings on school instructional materials open to the public and that districts must give parents access to all the proposed material at least 20 days before any official action is taken.

Florida’s Department of Education must also publish a list of removed or discontinued materials. The bill also places 12-year term limits for members of school boards, as the Daily Wire noted.

“While teachers, school administrators, and school board members have a tremendous amount of authority over what and how our kids are taught in school, at the end of the day, parents — not schools — are responsible for raising children,” state Senate President Wilton Simpson said in his own statement.

“Florida parents are seeking greater involvement in many aspects of our education system, and this legislation speaks to that effort. The books our kids are reading in schools need to have proper vetting. Parents have a right, and a responsibility, to be involved in that process,” the lawmaker added.

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