Poem author pulled out of Florida school retaliates
Poet Amanda Gorman spoke after her poem The hill we climb, which she recited at the presidential inauguration of President Joe Biden, was removed from an elementary school in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
The poem was taken from elementary school and made available to middle schoolers in the district instead. The change follows a complaint from a parent who worried about references to “critical race theory” and “hate messages” in a series of books, including the poem that propelled Gorman onto the front of the national stage in January 2021.
The removal comes amid a debate over what content is appropriate for primary school students. Halls of knowledge across the United States have been accused of banning books, especially those featuring diverse characters. Critics say these bans aim to silence people of color and the LGBTQ+ community, but supporters of these policies say they prevent children from learning about topics that are not deemed appropriate for their age. According to the American Library Association (ALA), book bans have increased by 40% in 2022.
Gorman condemned the school’s ban of his poem in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon.
Gorman wrote that she was “disgusted” by the decision to withdraw her poem from elementary school, which she said was caused by a single “complaint from a parent”. She called attention to many of the banned books as being written “by authors who have struggled for generations to find their way onto the shelves”, including “queer and non-white voices”.
“I wrote The hill we climb so that all young people can see themselves in a historic moment,” Gorman wrote. “Since then, I have received countless letters and videos from children inspired by The hill we climb to write his own poems. Depriving children of the chance to find their voice in literature is a violation of their right to freedom of thought and expression.”
Newsweek contacted the Miami-Dade County School District via email for comment.
A school district spokesperson, Elmo R. Lugo, told Axios that the poem was not banned in schools, but was deemed more appropriate for middle school students.
“It was determined at school that “The Hill We Climb” is better suited to middle schoolers and it has been placed in the middle school section of the media center,” the statement read. “The book remains available at the media center.
Reports from Florida revealed that a wide range of books, including The life of Rosa Parks and Holocaust textbooks, have been pulled from schools as Republicans have targeted what they describe as “woke” education.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, however, dismissed the book ban claims, accusing the media of creating a “false narrative” and a “hoax” on the issue.