School book bans in the U.S. increased by 33% in the last school year, with Florida seeing the highest number of bans, according to a report from the free speech group PEN America.
Report’s alarming findings: The report noted a significant surge in the number of books permanently removed from school libraries and classrooms.
* The number of permanently removed books rose to 1,263 last year, up from 333 the year before.
* According to Kasey Meehan, the lead author of the report, the momentum for these bans appears to be growing despite public opinion generally opposing such measures.
Public opinion and ban motives: The report points out the difference in public sentiment and the actions being taken.
* A recent poll found that 64% of Americans oppose book bans by school boards, and 69% oppose book bans by state lawmakers.
* However, PEN says that book banning efforts are being “supercharged” by both local and national pressure campaigns and by punitive state laws.
* About half the books banned deal with violence or physical abuse, nearly a third focus on LGBTQ+ identities, and almost a third feature characters of color and themes related to race or racism.
By the numbers: Florida alone accounted for more than 40% of book bans in the last school year.
* Florida, Texas, Missouri and Utah are among the eight states that have passed laws restricting books, accounting for 63% of these bans.
Proponent’s view: Supporters of book restrictions argue that the increasing trend is due to a rise in the number of inappropriate books in schools.
* Michelle Beavers, a member of a local Moms for Liberty chapter in Florida, said that awareness about the content of these books compels people to take action.
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