Several Florida schools are dropping Shakespeare plays from their curricula, fearing they will face a controversial new law banning books with sexual content, the Tampa Bay Times reported Wednesday.
Hillsborough County Public Schools will only assign excerpts from Shakespeare’s works during the upcoming school year, district officials revealed to the news outlet. Although they told the Times that they had changed their curriculum guides for teachers due to “revised teaching standards and a new set of state exams that cover a wide range of books and writing styles,” district spokesperson Tanya Arja admitted the decision was “also in consideration of the law”, referencing Florida’s Parental Education Rights Act.
Dubbed by its critics “Don’t Say Gay,” the measure took effect last month, requiring schools to suspend access to reading material alleged to contain pornography, depictions or descriptions of sexual behavior, pending resolution. of any complaint from parents or the State.
“I think the rest of the nation – no, the world is laughing at us. » Joseph Cool, a teacher at Gaither High, told the Times on Tuesday, emphasizing that “To remove Shakespeare in its entirety because the relationship between Romeo and Juliet somehow exploits minors is simply absurd.”
Due to uncertainty over what constitutes prohibited content, school districts have preemptively removed books from their libraries to avoid parental challenge while they are being taught. “media specialists” filter content to detect anything that could potentially break the law.
If scholars flag a book, a district-level committee is required to review it and make the final decision on whether it remains in the library. Parents can also file a complaint about any book posted on the school district’s website, demanding that the district remove the title within five days and keep it out of libraries until it can be reviewed.
Local CBS affiliate WJAX discovered earlier this week that Duval County had removed 19 titles from its shelves ahead of the 2023-2024 school year, while St. Johns County had dropped 31 books and Clay County had removed 115.
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