Florida school bans poem recited by Amanda Gorman at Biden inauguration

The poem will not be available to elementary school students at the Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Wednesday 24 May 2023 17:37 BST
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman’s amazing ceremony reading

A Florida school has banned elementary students from reading several works in its library, including The Hills We Climb, the poem written and read by Amanda Gorman at Joe Biden’s inauguration as president.

The poem will now only be accessible to middle school students at the Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes, Florida, according to The Miami Herald.

The poem, which received international acclaim, was one of several texts reportedly challenged by a parent of two students for referencing critical race theory or gender ideology.

Daily Salinas, the parent, also challenged three books; The ABCs of Black History, Cuban Kids, Countries in the News Cuba, and Love to Langston, the newspaper reported.

Ms Salinas told the Herald in Spanish that she “is not for eliminating or censoring any books” but wants appropriate material that allows students “to know the truth” about Cuba.

A school committee made up of three teachers, a library media specialist, a guidance counsellor and the school’s principal, decided that Countries in the News Cuba, was “balanced and age-appropriate in its wording and presentation” and would be kept available for all students.

It determined that the four other works were “more appropriate” for middle school students and would be moved to their area of the school library.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a string of laws over the last year targeting education, including a measure that restricts honest discussions of race and racism and another that prohibits classroom instruction related to gender or sexuality from kindergarten through high school, what opponents have called the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

The number of book challenges across the state has risen since the law’s introduction, The Herald reported.

Ms Gorman took to Twitter on Tuesday to mock the ban and posted the form that was submitted claiming the poem had been written by Oprah Winfrey.

“So they ban my book from young readers, confuse me with (Oprah Winfrey) fail to specify what parts of my poetry they object to, refuse to read any reviews, and offer no alternatives…Unnecessary book bans like these are on the rise, and we must fight back,” she tweeted.

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