Florida school moves Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb” to middle school section after complaint
Florida School Relocates Amanda Gorman’s Poem “The Hill We Climb” to Middle School Section After Complaint
Controversy has erupted at a Miami-Dade school in Florida over a book based on the renowned poem “The Hill We Climb,” written by Amanda Gorman, the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate. The poem gained widespread recognition when Gorman delivered a powerful rendition of it at President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential inauguration. However, one parent from Bob Graham Education Center, a K-8 school in Miami Lakes, objected to the book and filed a complaint, ultimately resulting in its removal from elementary-level access, as reported by CBS News Miami partner the Miami Herald.
The complaint alleged that the material lacked educational value, contained subtle messages of hate, caused confusion, and sought to indoctrinate students. Furthermore, it erroneously stated that Oprah Winfrey was the book’s author. Responding to the allegations, Gorman criticized the school district, suggesting that the removal of the book might face legal challenges. She expressed concern that such actions infringe upon children’s rights to independent thinking and free expression.
Miami-Dade schools issued a statement in response to the controversy, clarifying that no literature, including books or poems, had been banned or removed. The school determined that “The Hill We Climb” was more suitable for middle school students and consequently relocated it to the middle school section of the media center. The book remains readily available for students to access.
Florida finds itself at the heart of the ongoing debate regarding book bans, particularly as increased attention and resources are dedicated to assessing the suitability of books in school libraries and determining who should have access to them. Governor Ron DeSantis has been pushing for the ability to censor and challenge books based on their appropriateness for children in schools.
In a separate incident, the Escambia County school district is currently facing a lawsuit filed by Penguin Random House, PEN America, authors, and parents. This legal action arose from the district’s decision to remove books that discuss topics such as race, racism, and LGBTQ+ identities. The lawsuit alleges that the school district violated the First Amendment by disregarding the recommendations of its own experts and banning books. Some of the books that were removed include Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye,” Amy Reed’s “The Nowhere Girls,” and Alice Sebold’s “Lucky.”
According to the lawsuit, Escambia County, located in the panhandle of the state, is accused of depriving students of exposure to diverse perspectives. The lawsuit further contends that the district specifically targeted books that critics deemed too “woke.” PEN America, an organization dedicated to promoting freedom of speech, strongly criticized the removal of these titles, stating that it teaches students that books are dangerous. Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America, emphasized that such actions should not be condoned in a democratic society. She asserted, “In a nation built on free speech, this cannot stand.”
Lindsay Durtschi, a concerned parent, joined the lawsuit, motivated by her belief that banning books that embrace diversity causes irreparable harm to the voices and safety of students in Florida.
These incidents in Florida highlight the growing tension surrounding book censorship and the ongoing struggle to preserve the principles of free speech and open access to information in educational settings. As debates over the appropriateness of literary materials continue, it remains crucial to foster an inclusive environment that encourages critical thinking and diverse perspectives among students.