TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A book challenge at a Hillsborough County middle school has caught the attention of the speaker of the Florida House.
He is now intervening, sending a letter to Hillsborough County Public Schools.
Speaker Paul Renner said he wants to better understand how decisions are within the school district.
He is requesting records relating to books in Hillsborough County schools
“Any fair-minded person reviewing these books would agree, and we will not tolerate continued efforts to bypass Florida law,” he said in a statement.
The statement refers to a challenge to the book “This Book is Gay,” which is currently sitting on a shelf at Pierce Middle School’s library. The book explores sexuality with chapters on stereotypes, coming out, and the ins and outs of gay sex; saying in chapter five quote “I hope I’ve sold this LGBTQ+ thing pretty well.”
“While the vast majority of reading and educational materials in our school libraries are age-appropriate, some books are so clearly obscene and directed to children that they would be rejected by adult bookstores.”
So what do you do? Get rid of all the books?
Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association President Rob Krietee said absolutely not.
“We know in Manatee County that they’re capitulating,” Krietee said. “They’re getting rid of classroom libraries. We don’t think that’s the best tactic because we don’t think that’s best for kids.”
Superintendent Addison Davis responded to the letter saying in part, “The school’s educational media materials committee reviewed the book and upheld the decision to keep the book in the school’s library.”
But it goes further.
Speaker Renner requested the school board’s policy regarding input from parents. It’s something Krietee says was always valued in his classroom.
“I was an English teacher here in Hillsborough County for 24 years,” he said. “Every one of those years, the parents always understood and knew what books those kids were reading in my classroom.”
“The parents always had the ability to say, ‘I don’t want my child reading that book,’ whether it was the ‘Diary of Anne Frank’ or any book.”
You can read Speaker Renner’s full letter below.