NAPLES, Fla. — A recent disclosure by the Collier County School District revealed that more than 300 books have either been restricted or removed from public school library shelves. The district says the actions were made to comply with Florida law.
In an email to Fox 4 News, the county stated "In accordance with Florida House Bill 1069, Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) staff members have been conducting an extensive review of materials available at our 50+ media centers".
With an attached list of over 300 novels, the county stated "some on this list require parent permission; some were removed by level. Determination was made based on parameters of FL House Bill 1069, as well as other district review processes".
The Collier County Chapter of Moms for Liberty supports the district's decision, asserting that most books are not being banned. Instead, they argue that this move aims to provide parents with more insight into what their children are reading in schools.
Yvette Benarroch, the chapter chair of Moms for Liberty in Collier County, told Fox 4 News, "If a movie is rated R, you have to go to a parent, right? We believe parents have the fundamental right when it comes to everything from children's education and medical decisions."
She added "so, it's important for parents to know what children are reading in the schools."
Meanwhile, Pen America, a nonprofit organization advocating for free expression, categorizes the actions in Collier County as bans. They refute the allegations of sexually explicit content, claiming that such characterizations are exaggerated.
"I mean, these actions coming out of Collier are certainly bans. Whether the books have been tucked away, moved, or placed in a section of a library where students can't access those books, those are book bans, says Kasey Meehan, the director of PEN America's Freedom to Read project.
Collier County Public Schools maintains that its staff took these actions based on legislation passed by state lawmakers.
The law in question sets out requirements for age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate instruction for all students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12.