Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” aired in March of this year, and with it, the Southern education wars erupted, now with a new target. In recent months, Republican-majority states in the southeastern United States, including Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas, have embraced a new but surprisingly familiar cause: book bans.
Starting in 2021, Republican-controlled states have passed laws or approved executive branch policies that restrict how public school teachers can talk about race, gender, and sexual orientation. The buzzword last year that sparked Southern Republicans was “critical race theory.” Now they aim to limit not only racial discussions in the classroom, but also gender and sexuality.
Traditionally, battles over titles allowed to be taught in schools have been left to the discretion of individual school districts. No proposed book ban laws or policies have been passed at the time of writing. Nonetheless, Republican lawmakers continue to push for policies to make it easier for anyone to request that a particular book be removed from school libraries. Some lawmakers even go so far as to say that books written by LGBTQIA+ writers are pornography.
The goal is to restrict what is taught in classrooms as well as what is available to students in the library and to restrict discussion in public schools on topics of race, gender and sexual orientation.
Who does this help?
The purpose of these proposals is apparently to protect parental rights. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reportedly said, “Parents want an education for their children: they are not interested in indoctrination through the school system. But that begs the question, indoctrinated into what?
Well, isn’t it obvious? The neo-liberal public landscape that is the whole country!
It’s almost a cliché now to mention how divided our country is. Southern parent activist groups and lawmakers justify banning books and restrictions on teachers as a return to traditional Christian morality. Did we miss a news bulletin about not even pretending there is a separation between church and state anymore? All of this only reverses the past 60 years of progress in the fight for equality and representation in education.
Advocates point out that this is a movement to give parents a voice in their child’s education, to give everyone a voice. However, whichever way you look at it, the policies clearly favor one group of parents over all others and give this minority overwhelming power to assert and impose their beliefs on others. What about parents who want to be recognized as existing in their children’s reading material? Who wants their children to be properly educated?
But think of the children!
Those on the ban side say that the books they are trying to get rid of are not age-appropriate and that children in K-12 are too young to learn about social issues. As a member of Gen-Z myself, allow me to introduce the 24 and under population of this country (otherwise known as the youth they try so hard to protect from vulgar liberal notions such as… being black).
- children of color constitute a majority of our country’s public school system.
- Gen Z is leading an increase in the population that identifies as LGBTQIA+. According to a Forbes poll, 21% of Gen Z adults identify themselves as part of this community, the largest of all other generations.
- Even within the GOP, according to a study by the Pew Research CenterGen Z Republicans are more likely to admit and acknowledge issues such as racial injustice, climate change, and social issues around gender and sexuality.
On top of that, Gen Zers are internet natives and are already exposed to critical race theory and LGBTQIA+ movements every time they go on social media. This book banning movement is therefore not representative of the youth they are trying to “protect” in the first place. Accurate information and education about Black and LGBTQIA+ history is already sorely lacking in most educational institutions. For a list of books to fill in what we were missing in school, check out these seven recommendations.
Public libraries are under threat.
Attempts to ban books usually stop at the doors of school libraries. However, the ferocity with which lawmakers are going about it has public libraries worried about their collections. Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, said, “We strongly believe that as public institutions, public libraries and public school libraries should meet the needs of everyone. and reflect the life of everyone in the library. collection.”
The passage of laws like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill is inspiring copycat laws in several other Republican-controlled states. The overlap in language of these bills makes it clear that this is a nationwide campaign to limit student education in Republican-controlled states. They favor the growing minority of white Christian beliefs and isolate, neglect and, in the worst case scenario, target any student and parent who does not fit that mold.