St. Johns County

St. Johns County School District updates list of removed books

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — The St. Johns County School District released an updated list of books removed from school shelves Tuesday.

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All books district-wide must be reviewed by a media specialist before July 1 under new state law, Superintendent Tim Forson said.

“You’re talking about every book in a classroom, and every book in a media center. So, this is a process that will take quite a bit of labor, and time, and energy,” Forson told Action News Jax’s Robert Grant. “It’s important that we retain books that provide kids those experiences. I think it’s also important we be careful about books that stereotype small groups of students or individuals in your community as a certain type.”

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Schools throughout Florida have been directed by the Florida Department of Education to “err on the side of caution” when reviewing books.

SJCSD created a guideline to help media specialists follow state guidelines. In high school, for example, books “can’t have explicit, graphic descriptions or illustrations of sexual acts” or “pervasive, gruesome violence.”

In kindergarten through third grade, books can’t “reference gender identity or sexual orientation.” Only fourth grade and up can have a book featuring an LGBTQ+ character but with no information on gender identity.

Some of the objected books in St. Johns County you may know include: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Forever by Judy Blume and A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. A full list can be found HERE.

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Action News Jax asked Forson if a removed book is the same as “banned.”

“Whatever someone wants to call it, they’re going to call it. We know it’s very politically charged — so the reality is, from my seat, I want to do what’s best for kids. Period,” Forson said.

Parents can submit a book objection form, but books won’t be removed from shelves until after the review process.

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