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Gov. DeSantis to sign bill scaling back book ban rules in Florida’s public schools

'I think that will help short-circuit these frivolous challenges,' DeSantis says
Posted at 6:47 PM, Apr 15, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday said he’ll sign a bill scaling back the state’s law allowing book bans in public schools. That’s after previously working with the Republican-controlled legislature to create the censorship.
 
The change comes after Florida had more than 40% of the nation’s book ban cases — about 1,400 in total— just in the last school year. That’s according to research by PEN America. State officials had lower numbers but said the challenges resulted in nearly 390 books removed from Florida shelves, most from two school districts, Clay and Escambia.
 
HB 1285 would cap the number of books non-parents could challenge, limiting it to one per month. DeSantis believes that would help curb what he called "activists" from trying to drive up challenge numbers.
 
"So basically, if you don't have a kid in the school district, you can challenge one book per month," DeSantis said at a Pensacola press conference. "And I think that will help short-circuit these frivolous challenges, because it's being done to create a narrative that somehow oh my gosh, all these books are, quote, banned. No book is banned in Florida — the most grotesque, pornographic books that are in schools that have been removed, because they're not appropriate. You can go buy it at a bookstore if that's if that's what floats your boat. You're able to do that.”
 
State Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, was happy the limits were happening but said the caps don't go nearly far enough. She also didn't expect much would change as parents would still have no limit to what they want gone.
 
“There were some other ideas thrown around, including having a $100 fee for the person who brought an unsuccessful challenge," Berman said. "I think that would have been a better way to handle it and would have led to less frivolous challenges.”

The next step is for DeSantis to sign the bill, which could come as soon as Tuesday. After that, provisions come online in July.