Adam Tritt, a high school English teacher in Palm Bay, Florida, was shocked when his school’s librarian – eager to comply with Florida’s new law restricting “inappropriate” books in schools – removed one-third of the books on his classroom shelves, including a collection of Emily Dickinson’s poetry that was not on her list of approved books.
Vivian Taylor, a seventh-grade teacher in Miami, says she was told to hardly discuss Emmett Till – the 14-year-old victim of one of the US’s most notorious lynchings – in her civics classes because under Florida’s year-old “stop woke” law, “people say you’re not supposed to talk about that because it will make children uncomfortable”.
Carol Cleaver, a middle-school science teacher in Pensacola, says that when LGBTQ+ students who are feeling hopeless or depressed approach her to discuss their emotional troubles, she, different from before, often balks at telling them about a crisis support hotline for young LGBTQ+ people. She fears that if she mentions it, she will get in trouble under the Parental Rights in Education bill (known as the “don’t say gay” law) backed by Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis.
As the summer holidays approach, Florida teachers are feeling anxious, confused and beaten down by new laws, championed by DeSantis, that limit how issues of race can be taught, what teachers can say about sex, especially about homosexuality, and what books are permitted in schools. In promoting this legislation, DeSantis angered many teachers when he denounced “indoctrination in our schools” and let his press secretary accuse teachers of “grooming” students. [Continue reading…]