(The Hill) – American poet Amanda Gorman said on Tuesday that the poem she recited during President Biden’s inauguration has been banned by a school in Miami-Dade County.
“I’m gutted. Because of one’s parent’s complaint, my inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb, has been banned from an elementary school in Miami-Dade County, Florida,” Gorman said in a statement posted to Twitter.
Gorman noted in her statement that, while not new, book bans have been on the rise in recent years. The American Library Association found nearly 2,600 titles were targeted for censorship in 2022, an almost 40 percent increase from the previous year.
“What’s more, often all it takes to remove these works from our libraries and schools is a single objection,” Gorman said.
“And let’s be clear: most of the forbidden works are by authors who have struggled for generations to get on bookshelves,” Gorman said. “The majority of these censored works are by queer and non-white voices.”
Gorman also said the reason she wrote “The Hill We Climb” was to give young people the chance to see “themselves in a historical moment,” adding that her publisher, Penguin Random House, has joined nonprofit organization PEN America in a lawsuit in Florida’s Escambia County to challenge book restrictions and bans.
“Together, this is a hill we won’t just climb, but a hill we will conquer,” Gorman concluded.
In a statement to The Hill, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools said that “no literature (books or poem) has been banned or removed,” adding that Gorman’s poem is better suited for middle school readers, and the poem has been shelved in the school’s middle school section of its media center.
Gorman’s remarks come as Bob Graham Education Center, a K-8 school in Miami-Dade County, issued restrictions last month for elementary-aged students on Gorman’s poem and three books after a parent objected to five titles, claiming that the titles included topics that were inappropriate for students and should be removed from the environment, according to the Miami Herald.
“We are deeply disappointed that the Bob Graham Education Center has determined that elementary schoolers should not have access to Amanda Gorman’s beautiful poem in their library,” a spokesperson for the Florida Freedom to Read Project said in a statement to The Hill.
“Without any clear guidance from the FLDOE on what is meant by ‘age appropriate’ information on racism, discrimination, and other topics guarded by HB7 (the Stop W.O.K.E Act), we continue to see educators and district leaders ‘err on the side of caution’ and restrict these library books from the authors’ intended audiences,” the spokesperson added. “It is a complete disservice to our young learners that connect with these stories, seek out historical information beyond what’s offered in the classroom, or those that happen to be advanced readers.”
Florida has been at the epicenter of educational controversies as its state legislature, along with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), has pushed legislation to limit material and curriculum taught in schools.
In January, DeSantis’s administration rejected an Advanced Placement African American Studies course, saying the content “significantly lacks educational value.” DeSantis also signed last year the Parental Rights in Education, dubbed by its critics as “Don’t Say Gay,” which bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for certain grades.
The NAACP issued a formal travel advisory for Florida on Saturday, saying the state has become “hostile to Black Americans” under DeSantis’s leadership.