High school students say they should have freedom to choose what they want to read

'Everyone should have an opportunity to read whatever they want,' Kerrigan Gilmore says
Posted at 8:06 AM, Mar 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-09 08:28:58-05

VERO BEACH, Fla. — The school library has become a new flashpoint in the debate over what's appropriate for children.

But what do some of the kids think about potential banning of books?

On a hot Wednesday afternoon, the Vero Beach girls lacrosse team runs through its practice paces.

There is optimism at the midpoint of the season, but pessimism when hearing conversations over banning some books from the school library.

"I feel that at this age, everyone should have opportunity, if they want to, to read whatever they want and be exposed to it, because the real world will hit you at some point," Vero Beach High School student Kerrigan Gilmore said.

The school board in Indian River County recently approved a new committee made up of five parents, a teacher and a school administrator to look at any school library book being challenged over its content.

"You have to be exposed to that early, so that when you go to college, or in real life, you don’t have a cultural shock to you," Sarah Duffany said.

In 2022, the board voted to remove only five of the 156 books that had been challenged.

All of them were in high school libraries.

So far, it seems all this talk about banning books from school libraries has not translated out into the greater community.

At the Vero Beach Book Center, where Gov. Ron DeSantis' book is selling well, owner Chad Leonard said he hasn't seen a rush of kids looking for books they can't find in school.

That said, Leonard said he's not for any type of book banning.

"We would never refuse ordering a book for somebody for any political, or our opinion, or anything like that," Leonard said. "We're a business and we'll order what anybody wants us to order as long as it's available."

Gilmore said when it comes to books, and expanding her horizons, getting guidance at home from her parents has been key.

"They talk me through everything, any question I have," she said. "For some people, that option isn’t there, so the school library could be a great resource for them."

It's a resource that, depending on future parent challenges, could have fewer resources.