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Former New York City mayor, Moms for Liberty co-founder set to debate book bans in Orlando

Thousands of books have been banned in Florida since 2023.
Thousands of books have been banned in Florida since 2023.

A former New York City mayor will debate a Moms for Liberty co-founder at a public debate at the Orlando Public Library this evening. The subject: book bans.

According to PEN America, a nonprofit that tracks censorship in the US, Florida leads the nation in book bans.

University of Central Florida political science professor Aubrey Jewett said the fact Bill de Blasio will be debating Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice shows just how much of a national issue book bans in Florida have become.

“What we have done in this state has gotten a lot of attention. And a lot of criticism from some quarters and some support from others,” said Jewett. “But it really does show that this is an issue that people are very passionate about.”

Jewett said de Blasio is one of the most well-known progressive voices in the country as former mayor of New York City.

“You could argue that the mayor of New York City is usually one of the most high profile local officials in the country, right, because that's a big city, and everybody knows New York City. So it's an interesting choice. And of course he’s pretty passionate about issues like this.”

Local school board members and principals, along with members of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, and the Florida Freedom to Read Project plan to attend.

Under HB 1069, a law that made it easier for parents and other residents to challenge books if they were “pornagraphic,” thousands of books have been removed from classroom and school library bookshelves in Florida.

In Brevard County just last week “A Court of Thorns and Roses” was removed from the district due to what board members called explicit sex scenes.

The event that is open to the public will take place between 5 and 6:30 pm at the Orlando Public Library.

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.
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