Florida hasn’t forced schools to stop teaching Harper Lee’s classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” despite misleading posts that amassed thousands of shares on social media.
The false claim erupted after various social media users shared a list of book titles and said it showed books banned in Florida, including “To Kill a Mockingbird” and other well-known titles such as “A Wrinkle in Time,” “The Giver,” and “Of Mice and Men.”
Bryan Griffin, press secretary for Florida’s Republican governor, confirmed in several tweets that the claim was false.
“The State of Florida has not banned To Kill a Mockingbird,” Griffin tweeted. “In fact, Florida RECOMMENDS the book in 8th grade.” The tweet linked to Florida’s state Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking, or BEST, standards, which include the book as a sample text for eighth-grade students.
Jeremy Redfern, deputy press secretary for the governor, told the AP in an email that there is no banned book list at the state level, and that the “Banned Book List” circulating online was fake.
“The state sets guidelines regarding content, and the local school districts are responsible for enforcing them,” Redfern said.
The Palm Beach County School District temporarily removed “To Kill a Mockingbird” from classrooms to review it earlier this year, but has since returned it, according to the Florida Freedom to Read Project. The Palm Beach County School District told the AP in an email that it had reviewed 2.5 million books over the summer and was in compliance with Florida’s parental rights legislation.
The Florida Freedom to Read Project, which tracks book removals across Florida school districts, said its research did not find any other recent bans of the title in Florida schools, though it relies on documentation from the state’s school districts, which have not all responded in recent months.
“There is no way for us to say for sure that the title is still available in every district, but it definitely isn’t banned across the state,” said Stephana Ferrell, cofounder of the Florida Freedom to Read Project.
Tasslyn Magnusson, an independent researcher who tracks book banning attempts nationwide, also said she was not aware of any recent bans on “To Kill a Mockingbird” in Florida school districts. She said the widely shared “Banned Book List” also didn’t match up with her own data.
By Ali Swenson, Associated Press