Did a Florida School Ban Amanda Gorman’s Book, ‘The Hill We Climb’?!– OnMyWay Mobile App User News

Did a Florida School Ban Amanda Gorman's Book, 'The Hill We Climb'?

Amanda Gorman slammed officials at a school in Miami-Dade County, Florida, on Tuesday for what she called a ban on elementary students reading “The Hill We Climb,” the poem she famously recited at President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential inauguration.

The poem, which has been published as a short book, will now be accessible only to middle school students at the pre-K through eighth grade Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes, Florida.

In an attempt to fight back, Gorman said her publisher – Penguin Random House – is joining PEN America and others in a lawsuit to challenge book restrictions.

“I’m gutted,” the former and first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate wrote on Instagram about the Bob Graham Education Center’s decision to ban her work from the students it serves. The decision was made after one parent complained, Gorman wrote.

“I’m gutted,” the former and first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate wrote on Instagram about the Bob Graham Education Center’s decision to ban her work from the students it serves. The decision was made after one parent complained, Gorman wrote.

On March 29, 2023, a parent filed a written complaint with the school regarding five different books in its library. One of those books was “The Hill We Climb.” According to the complaints, the parent believed that the “function” of at least some of the specified works, including Gorman’s poem, was to “indoctrinate” children.

According to The New York Times, that parent was Daily Salinas, a mother of two children who attend the school. The Times’ reporting cited records provided by Florida Freedom to Read Project, describing it as “an advocacy group that opposes efforts to ban and restrict access to books in the state.”

Salinas’ complaint regarding Gorman’s poem misidentified the work’s main author as Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey had, however, written a foreword for the book.

In the complaint, Salinas wrote that she believed Gorman’s poem was “not educational.” She said that it contained indirect messages of hate and could “cause confusion and indoctrinate students.”

Gorman, the nation’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate, was 22 when she performed “The Hill We Climb” at Biden’s inauguration in 2021. Inspired by the Capitol insurrection two weeks earlier, the 700-word poem criticized the “force that would shatter our nation rather than share it” and spoke about the need for justice and social change.

“The new dawn blooms as we free it,” she concluded the poem. “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.”

The poem and performance launched her to national stardom, including appearances at the Super Bowl, on the cover of Time and Vogue and atop bestseller’s lists.

Florida is at the center of the debate on book bans, particularly as more time and resources get devoted to reviewing which books should be in school libraries and who should have access to them.

This comes after a push by Gov. Ron DeSantis to BSN books based on whether they are appropriate for children in schools.

The Escambia County School District is being sued by Penguin Random House, PEN America, authors, and parents after it removed books discussing race, racism, and LGBTQ+ identities.

The lawsuit claims that the school district violated the First Amendment when it ordered the removal of books against the recommendations of its own experts, with the banned books including “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “The Nowhere Girls” by Amy Reed, and “Lucky” by Alice Sebold.

Escambia County, located in the state’s panhandle, is allegedly “depriving students of access to a wide range of viewpoints” and specifically targeting books that “critics view as too ‘woke,'” the lawsuit claims.

PEN America, a group that champions free speech, said removing titles from school libraries teaches students that books are dangerous. That’s a lesson that should not be taught in a democracy, Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America, said in a statement.

“In Escambia County, state censors are spiriting books off shelves in a deliberate attempt to suppress diverse voices,” she said. “In a nation built on free speech, this cannot stand.”

One parent, Lindsay Durtschi, said she joined the lawsuit because she believes banning diverse books creates “irreparable harm to the voices and safety of students in Florida.”

On Wednesday, United Teachers of Dade released the following statement:

“At United Teachers of Dade, we strongly condemn book bans and the recent “relocation” of the first ever National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb”, from being read by elementary school students in Bob Graham Education Center, in Miami Lakes. This decision not only limits the access to an important literary work, but also hinders the educational and intellectual growth of our students.

Book bans undermine the power of literature to foster understanding, empathy, and critical thinking. They restrict our students from exploring diverse voices and perspectives, which are essential for their development and the cultivation of a well-rounded education.

We champion inclusivity, open-mindedness, and diverse literature that reflects the rich tapestry of our world and fosters cultural appreciation.

Her tweet included a copy of a complaint form that states her book “is not educational” and contains “hate messages.” The form, also tweeted by The Florida Freedom to Read Project, says the complainant believes the purpose of the book is to “cause confusion and Indoctrinate students.”


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