A school district in southwest Florida recently placed parental advisory notices on over 100 books, many of which contain topics covering racial justice and LGBTQ+ issues.

The Collier County Public Schools placed an “advisory notice to parents” on both the physical and digital copies of the books, explaining that some members of the community think the content is “unsuitable for students.”

“This Advisory Notice shall serve to inform you that this book has been identified by some community members as unsuitable for students. This book will also be identified in the Destiny system with the same notation. The decision whether this book is suitable or unsuitable shall be the decision of the parent(s) who has the right to oversee his/her child’s education consistent with state law,” the label read.

According to Heritage Foundation Senior Education Fellow Jonathan Butcher, these warning labels may be a compromise for both parties—those who want to take books off the shelves, and those who do not.

Butcher said that “these labels can be seen as a way of partnering with parents when it comes to what children are exposed to—if a parent decides that they do not want their child to read explicit passages in a book, the label can warn them that such language is there.”

But to the Florida Freedom to Read Project, an organization that’s against book censorship in the state, the warning labels shouldn’t be in place.

“It’s unfortunate, because this is a literary work. The sticker that they chose to put on there, the language that they chose, would make any reader who would otherwise pick up the book based on the cover and the description, it would make them think twice about reading the book,” said Stephana Ferrell, the co-founder of the Florida Freedom to Read Project.

Ferrell was reportedly told by a member from the school that the warning labels were prompted by a  “Porn in Schools Report,” created by the organization Florida Citizens Alliance. The report included books that supposedly had “indecent and offensive material” and “promote gender self-identification and same-sex marriage.”

A spokesman for Collier County Public Schools, Chad Oliver, denied that the report caused the labels.

“Based upon advice from the General Counsel, we placed advisory notices on books about which parents and community members had expressed concern and in accordance with the recently passed Parents’ Bill of Rights Law (HB 241),” Oliver said.

However, many of the books that were on the Florida Citizens Alliance report received a warning label. Some of these include Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. 

Some of the content that has troubled parents, such as promoting controversial forms of “racial justice,” has been pushed on students at a higher level. For instance, this past month, the National Education Association recommended a book that contained depictions of marijuana use and taking a knee during the National Anthem.

In other parts of the country, controversial content is promoted not just in books, but in the school as a whole. For instance, the Pennsylvania Department of Education just came under fire for including gender identity information on its website. It said, “In addition to the traditional pronouns (he/him, she/her, they), some people prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns, such as ne, ve, ze/zie and xe. If you don’t know a student’s preferred personal pronoun, it’s always best to ask.” 

And over in California, a woman travels around schools in the state dressed up as a male body part, calling herself “Paula the Penis.” She teaches gender and sexuality, and as for what her purpose is, she said: “I’m a walking, talking visual aid, doing my part to take the trauma out of childhood.”

What do you think of the warning labels placed on school books?

Read more: Book Banning: What It Is and What It Isn’t and “A Case for Book Banning” with Guest Andrew Glover

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