TALLAHASSEE, Florida (LifeSiteNews) —Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Friday that ensures parents can see the materials used in their children’s classroom.
School boards must hold open meetings where the public can comment on instructional materials.
HB 1467 requires school districts to “[p]rovide access to all materials … at least 20 calendar days before the district school board takes any official action on such materials,” according to a summary of the legislation.
It also requires the state Department of Education to “publish and update a list of materials that were removed or discontinued by district school boards as a result of an objection and disseminate the list to school districts for consideration in their instructional materials selection.”
School libraries must also ensure age-appropriate, non-pornographic materials are available and ensure parents can know what is available to their kids. “Each public elementary school is required by the bill to publish on its website a list of all materials maintained in the school library or required as part of a booklist used in a classroom,” the legislation summary provided by the Florida Senate says.
“Required book selections must be free of pornography and prohibited materials harmful to minors, suited to student needs, and appropriate for the grade level and age group,” the summary says.
Gov. DeSantis said this law ensures parents, not school boards and other politicians, remain in control of education. “In Florida, our parents have every right to be involved in their child’s education. We are not going to let politicians deny parents the right to know what is being taught in our schools,” he said in a statement on March 25.
A Florida parent shared why she appreciated the legislation.
“Recently I discovered one of the most disturbing, pornographic books in my child’s high school in Orange County,” Alicia Farrant said in the news release from the governor’s office. “After some research, I learned that an alarming percentage of high school and middle school library books contain similar material. It is appalling that removal of pornographic and sexually explicit books has even been cause for debate.”
“Our students deserve to have high quality, academically rich books at their fingertips and under no circumstance should they have access to graphic, pornographic material at school,” Farrant said.
Free speech group PEN America said legislation like Florida’s is going to cause problems because parents will go through the materials and might raise objections to the content.
“You have these groups of activist parents who are going to comb through this and find things to be mad about,” Jeremy Young, senior manager of free expression and education at PEN America, told the Washington Post in early March. “It is just breeding conflict between parents and teachers.”