Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is highlighting recent moves to ban or restrict reading in Florida schools, actions that have sparked a wave of similar restrictions in conservative states across the country.
The problems with books are a central cultural issue for DeSantis, who announced on Wednesday that he will seek the Republican Party nomination in the 2024 presidential election.
Florida passed laws last year that make it easier for parents to challenge books in school libraries that they believe are pornographic, inappropriately deal with racial issues or may be inappropriate for other reasons.
DeSantis argues that the books are not being banned, but are being curated to “meet government standards.”
“There has not been a single book banned in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said during his live appearance on Wednesday.
Earlier in May, a group of writers and a major publishing house sued a school district in Florida over the new state laws, arguing that by pulling the books from the shelves, the district was violating students’ First Amendment rights.
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Other states followed Florida.
The Arkansas law, signed by Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and set to take effect this summer, introduces more challenges and would criminalize librarians who knowingly provide “harmful” material to minors.
Indiana’s Republican governor, Eric Holcomb, signed a bill in May that would require school libraries to post a list of suggested titles and give community members a channel for complaints.
Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law requiring schools to remove any names, except religious texts, that depict sexual acts.
Oklahoma and Texas have similar rules pending approval by Republican governors.
The American Library Association reported that in 2022 recorded 1269 calls to books or library resources, which is more than double the 729 tasks of 2021. Most of the challenged works were created by or about members of the LGBTQ community and people of color.
SEE MORE: Libraries giving young people access to books amid wave of book bans
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