Florida Doesn’t Ban “To Kill a Mockingbird,” As Fake List Suggests

Disclaimer: Florida bans the use of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in schools, along with some other popular titles on the Prohibited Book List.

Associated Press assessment: false. A spokesman for Gov. Ron DeSantis confirmed that “To Kill a Mockingbird” is not banned in the state. Earlier this year, a school district in Palm Beach County, Florida, removed the title from the school library as part of a review, but later returned it, according to district documents. A “banned book list” shared on social media this week was also bogus, including many that weren’t banned in Florida, according to groups that track book bans and challenges.

FACT: Florida isn’t forcing schools to stop teaching Harper Lee’s classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” despite a misleading post that got thousands of shares on social media over the weekend.

The false claim erupted after various social media users shared a list of book titles they said showed books banned in Florida. To Kill a Mockingbird is on the list, along with other well-known works, including A Wrinkle in Time, The Giver, and Between Mice and Men.

The Florida Republican governor’s press secretary Brian Griffin confirmed in several tweets that the claim was false.

“Florida doesn’t ban Killing a Mockingbird,” Griffin tweet Sunday. “In fact, the state of Florida recommends this book in 8th grade.” This tweet is about Florida Benchmarks of Excellent Student Thinking or Best Standardswhich includes the book as a sample text for eighth graders.

The governor’s deputy press secretary, Jeremy Redfern, told The Associated Press in an email that there is no banned book list at the state level and that the “banned book list” circulating online is fake.

“The state has guidelines on content, and local school districts are responsible for enforcing those guidelines,” Redfern said.

The Palm Beach County School District temporarily removed To Kill a Mockingbird from classrooms earlier this year for review, but later returned it, according to the Florida Free Reading Project.the group of which Tracking book removals in Florida school districtssaid its research did not find any other recent headline bans on Florida schools, although it relied on documents from the state’s school districts, which have not responded in full in recent months.

“We can’t say for sure that the title is still available in every region, but definitely not banned statewide,” said Stephana Ferrell, co-founder of the Florida Free Reading Project.

Tasslyn Magnusson, an independent researcher who has tracked nationwide attempts to ban books, also said she was unaware of any recent “To Kill a Mockingbird” ban in the Florida school district. She said she believed the widely shared “banned book list” did not match her own data and was meant to scare people into paying more attention to book censorship.

In a tweet refuting the false claim that “To Kill a Mockingbird” is banned in Florida, DeSantis’ press secretary pointed to the Burbank Unified School District in California, and claimed the “progressive district” banned the 2020 this title.

That’s also not quite accurate, according to District Superintendent Matt Hill, who said his district has not banned any books. Instead, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and several others are “no longer mandatory reading” after complaints about the book and four others were sparked in 2020 Amendment to Text Required by School District.

Florida public schools have seen hundreds of book bans over the past year. Report from PEN America, an advocacy group for writing professionals. The group warned in April that more books could be banned in the Florida region because DeSantis had signed a bill that would make it easier for parents to question books and instructional materials they don’t approve.

Florida Department of Education earlier this year Rejected dozens of math textbooksthink they contain questions and exercises based on a common core or critical race theory. Opponents say the problem the state found was not an actual problem. Despite the state’s disapproval, individual districts can still purchase the texts under Florida law if at least half of the book’s spending goes to approved material.

The state Department of Education and the Palm Beach County School District did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

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It’s part of The Associated Press’ efforts to address widely shared misinformation, including working with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content circulating online. Learn more about AP Fact Checking.

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