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100+ Books in Hillsborough County schools violate Florida obscenity statutes

Nonprofit contacts authorities, says 100+ books in county school district violate state obscenity statutes

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A nonprofit group based in Tampa said Monday that more than 100 books in the Hillsborough County School District violate state obscenity laws, and they have been in contact with the State Attorney’s Office and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department regarding the matter.

The law in question is Florida Statute 847.

The law bars from schools, “Any material used in a classroom, made available in a school library or included on a reading list … that is pornographic or prohibited under s. 847.021, not suited for student needs and their ability to comprehend the material presented, or is inappropriate for the grade level and age group for which the material is used.”

Section 847.021 makes it a crime to knowingly distribute “harmful materials,” including pornography, to minors.

Some of the books that Citizens Defending Freedom says violate the law include Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, Lawnboy by Jonathan Evison, This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson and All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson, which Citizens Defending Freedom says are riddled with explicit content, and in some cases, pornography.

All of those books are among the most challenged books in America, according to the American Library Association(ALA).

According to Citizens Defending Freedom, who consulted with the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, those authorities concluded that even if the books violate the law as written, they do not have a specific victim and they are not sure who to hold accountable under the law.

But according to section 1006.28 of FS 847, the school board ultimately is responsible for all reading materials that are provided or made available to students.

“Each district school board is responsible for the content of all instructional materials and any other materials used in a classroom, made available in a school library, or included on the reading list…” the statute says.

Citizens Defending Freedom says it is clear who should be held accountable for this alleged lawbreaking.

“If authorities are looking for someone to hold accountable for what we believe is a clear violation of Florida law, it should be the school board,” said Citizens Defending Freedom - Hillsborough County Executive Director Debbie Hunt. “We believe the school board members who have refused to remove these pornographic and sexually explicit materials from school libraries, or have voted in favor of leaving these materials in our school libraries, are clearly the culpable parties under the law. These harmful books have been an issue in Hillsborough County for over two years and have not been addressed.”

Hunt reiterated that this is not about banning books.

“If parents want their minor children to have access to this material, they can simply purchase the books and provide them to their children at home,” said Hunt. “This is about protecting innocent children from stumbling across obscene materials in their schools, which should be safe places for them to learn.”



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