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Thousands of books were banned in Central Florida in 2023. Here's what to expect in 2024

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Thousands of books have been pulled off Central Florida school and classroom library bookshelves this year.

WMFE’s Danielle Prieur spoke with the Florida Freedom to Read Project, a local nonprofit that advocates against book bans about the year in review in censorship.

In 2023, HB 1069 took effect in Florida. The law made it easier to challenge any book that was pornagraphic, depicted sex, or was age inappropriate.

In response, schools pulled thousands of books. The Florida Freedom to Read Project says Escambia County removed over 1,500 books, the most in Florida. In Central Florida, Orange pulled nearly 700, Seminole pulled about 100, and Volusia is still reviewing hundreds of books.

The Project’s Director Stephana Ferrell said she doesn’t expect things to improve in 2024.

“So there’s still a lot that is ongoing. There is a lot of pressure on the districts to do these internal reviews now to ensure compliance," said Ferrell.

Ferrell said schools will likely see hundreds more censored in the new year.

“Unfortunately because of the lack of very clear guidance from the Florida DOE what we’re seeing is a lot of bad copycatting of one district seeing what another district is doing and saying oh we better do that too. In this effort to err on the side of caution," said Ferrell.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and other supporters of the law say it’s needed to keep “pornagraphic” materials out of school classrooms.

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.
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