DeSantis admin mandates training for school librarians to vet pornographic books

(Daily Caller) – Florida librarians are now required to take an annual training on which books and instructional materials, specifically ones containing pornography and Critical Race Theory (CRT), are allowed within schools, according to the Florida Department of Education.

The Florida Department of Education approved a rule Wednesday that mandates librarians be trained to keep material that is sexually explicit and “harmful to minors” out of schools. The training requires librarians to include parents in “all aspects” of choosing materials that enter the school libraries.

“We are leading the country in parental rights and best by children and this is another example of this,” Jennifer Pippin, a parent on the Florida Department of Education’s library and curriculum training committee, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “With this training no more pornography or prohibited items such as sexually explicit content, Critical Race Theory or other items harmful to minors will be allowed to be purchased or donated in Florida schools. Many parents, grandparents and community members have been advocating for this for years and finally we have the laws, statutes, training and rules to support removing incest, rape, pedophilia, bestiality and more out of the hands of children in K-12 schools.”

As a part of the training, the librarians are advised that no books in the school library should contain pornography and learning materials must be appropriate for all grades of students who can access the book. The librarians are taught that materials available in the library should not contain “unsolicited theories that may lead to student indoctrination,” the training stated.

All books allowed in the school must have an educational purpose as well as be objective and balanced, the training showed. The librarians are told that CRT, or the teaching that one “race is inherently superior to another race,” shall not be promoted in any literature within the library.

“In the training they actually explain that if you violate Florida Statute 847.012, that’s considered a third degree felony, and it’s punishable to up to five years in prison up to $5,000 fine,” Yvette Benarroch, Collier chapter chair of Moms for Liberty, a coalition of parents focused on transparency in education, told the DCNF. “It puts some teeth in there, where now they’re going to be more careful.”

The training teaches librarians how to judge the level of appropriateness of a book before putting it in the library, Paul Burns, deputy chancellor for educator quality at the Florida Department of Education, said at the Wednesday meeting.

When choosing which books can be permitted in the library, librarians should “err on the side of caution,” according to the training. If a librarian is unsure if a book should be allowed in a school, they are encouraged to test if a student would be “comfortable reading aloud the material in question in a public meeting,” a video version of the training said, according to WUSF News.

The mandated training raised concerns of censorship, Donna Paz Kaufman, the owner of a Nassau County bookstore, told WUSF News.

“My family came from the former communist bloc,” Paz Kaufman told WUSF News. “And we know censorship, and we know the dangers of censorship. And when I hear that there’s a government body going to decide what is questionable and inappropriate, I get concerned.”

Across the country, parents are working to have sexually explicit content removed from schools; in the 2021-2022 school year the books most commonly removed from schools included “Gender Queer: A Memoir” and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” which contain images of masturbation and explicit descriptions of sexual encounters.

“The training is used and explicitly detailed to ensure that we are keeping that kind of material away from our minor children and that anything that has sensitive nature is properly flagged and allows parents the opportunity to view that material before they make that decision, an informed and empowered decision, to determine what’s appropriate for their own child,” Bridget Ziegler, Sarasota County School board member, told the DCNF.

The Florida Board of Education did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.