Independent journalism outlet Popular Information has shared the contents of a public records request that was first shared with them by the Florida Freedom to Read Project (FFTRP). It shows a document detailing a conversation had between Charlotte County Superintendent Mark Vianello, the school board’s attorney, Michael McKinley, and the district’s librarians.

The librarians wanted to know how to enforce the “Don’t Say Gay” expansion portion of the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act. They asked, “Are we removing books from any school or media center, Prek-12 if a character has, for example, two mothers or because there is a gay best friend or a main character is gay?” To which Vianello and Michael McKinely simply said “Yes.”

This guidance applied even if there was no sexually explicit material. When the librarians asked if books could have LGBTQ+ characters if there wasn’t any sexually explicit material, Vianello and McKinely said, “No. Books with LBGTQ+ characters are not to be included in classroom libraries or school library media centers.”

They went on to say that “[t]hese characters and themes cannot exist.” 

With this latest move, they are saying the (not so) quiet part out loud. It’s not about shielding children from inappropriate sexual content and it never has been. They simply want to erase the existence of people they wished didn’t exist. Period.

Find more news and stories of interest from the book world in Breaking in Books.


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