Florida’s Department of Education announced Friday that it will ban 54 math textbooks on the grounds that they teach critical race theory.
The ban is a record-breaking one in that 41% of 132 books submitted for review were censored. Book bans might be nothing new, but in the past year alone more than 1,500 books have been banned in school districts across the country according to Pen America, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting freedom of expression in the U.S.
Tracie Hall, executive director of the American Library Association, says the books that are being banned in the past year target topics like racism, sexuality and sexual orientation.
One of the most banned book in schools across the country, for example, is National Book Critics Circle Award winner Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye.”
At least 42 states have introduced legislation or have taken steps to restrict the teaching of critical race theory, sexual identity and sexual orientation, according to Education Week.
Hall says the bans threaten the “freedom to read” and disproportionally affect LGBTQIA communities and other minority groups.
“Just as during the McCarthy era there was a desire to suppress social change, we see that happening again,” Hall said. “Especially as people of color and LGBTQIA individuals seek more social inclusion and political power.”
On Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said parents have a fundamental role in the education, healthcare and wellbeing of their children. But Hall says that when a government creates legislation to ban books, it takes away the rights of parents to decide what materials their children have access to.