Amanda Gorman’s Biden poem ‘banned’ by school after parent complains about Black and Cuban books

Amanda Gorman

A Florida school has banned the poem Amanda Gorman read at president Joe Biden’s inauguration, after just one parent complained. 

Miami-Dade County Public Schools took the side of the angry parent to ban The Hill We Climb, alongside four other titles, from elementary schools after the parent deemed it contained inappropriate topics.

Gorman has responded, stating the titles facing book bans across America are almost exclusively “queer and non-white voices.”

A review of five titles available at the library at Bob Graham Education Center, in Miami Lakes, was triggered by the parent of two pupils at the school. The poem is now only accessible to middle school students aged 11 to 14.

The parent claimed the books contained topics of critical race theory, “indirect hate messages”, gender ideology and indoctrination, according to the Miami Herald.

The ABCs of Black History, Cuban Kids, Countries in the News Cuba and Love to Langston were also included in the complaint.

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‘A violation of their right to free thought and free speech’

Taking to Twitter, Gorman, who read the poem outside the Capitol Building in Washington DC in 2021, said she was “gutted” by the school’s decision and referred to the increase in book bans. 

According to PEN America, 175 books have been removed across the Florida already this year.

Gorman shared her outrage at the ban being enforced due to only a “single objection”. 

She went on: “Let’s be clear: most of the forbidden works are by authors who have struggled for generations to get on bookshelves. The majority of these censored works are by queer and non-white voices.”

She wrote The Hill We Climb to ensure “all young people could see themselves in a historical moment”, an aspiration she achieved due to the “countless letters and videos” she said she had received from children. 

“Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech,” she said. 

Gorman, who became first national youth poet laureate in 2017, mentioned that her publisher, Penguin Random House, has joined with PEN America to bring a lawsuit against Florida’s Escambia County School District and School Board to challenge such book restrictions. 

In a later tweet Gorman, 25, posted a photo of the successful complaint form which showed the parent had attributed the poem to Black American TV host Oprah Winfrey, who is 69.

The lawsuit against the school district in Florida comes as its Republican governor Ron DeSantis, who is set to launch his campaign for the presidential nomination in a live appearance with Elon Musk today (24 May), continues to crack down on all things LGBTQ+ and “woke” in the Sunshine state.

The Republican politician has sought to ban discussions of gender and sexuality in schools with his Don’t Say Gay bill, which was recently expanded to include students up to the eighth grade, and introduced laws to remove LGBTQ+ and racial books.

He has also cut federal funding for diversity training, rolled back gender-affirming care, banned drag shows, and allowed medical discrimination and restricting abortion rights.

PinkNews has contacted Miami-Dade County Public Schools for comment. 

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