A school in Florida has banned the poem read at Joe Biden’s inauguration after a single complaint.
The unnamed parent said Amanda Gorman’s poem The Hill We Climb was “not educational” and contained “indirectly (sic) hate messages”, adding that it could “cause confusion and indoctrinate students”.
Gorman, 25, said on Instagram that she was “gutted” the poem had been banned from the elementary school in Miami-Dade County.
She said: “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.”
Gorman said she had written the poem “so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment” and that she had received “countless letters and videos” from children inspired to write their own poetry.
“Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech,” she added.
The banning of the poem comes at a time when Governor Ron DeSantis and a number of other politicians are moving to make Florida a more restrictive and less tolerant state.
On Tuesday, The Human Rights Campaign joined the NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Florida Immigrant Coalition and Equality Florida in issuing travel or relocation warnings for the Sunshine State.
The Hill We Climb – Amanda Gorman
When day comes, we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry, a sea we must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
‘Openly hostile’ laws and policies
The LGBT+ advocacy group said it was not calling for a boycott of travel to Florida but that it wanted to highlight new laws passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature that are hostile to its community, restrict abortion access and allow Floridians to carry concealed weapons without a permit.
Last weekend the NAACP, the oldest civil rights organisation in the US, said tourists should understand that the state “devalues and marginalises the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of colour”.
It also said that recent laws and policies championed by Mr DeSantis and others are “openly hostile” towards these groups and towards LGBTQ+ people.
In recent months Florida’s leaders have:
• Backed measures that ban state colleges from having programmes on diversity, equality and inclusion, as well as critical race theory
• Passed the Stop WOKE Act, restricting race-based discussion in schools and businesses
• Prohibited local governments from giving money to organisations that issue ID cards to people illegally in the US
• Invalidated driver’s licences held by undocumented migrants
• Required hospitals accepting Medicaid to include a citizenship question on forms, something critics say is intended to prevent illegal migrants from seeking medical help
• Tried to limit discussion on LGBTQ topics in schools and remove books with gay characters from libraries
Equality Florida said: “Taken in their totality, Florida’s slate of laws and policies targeting basic freedoms and rights pose a serious risk to the health and safety of those travelling to the state.”
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‘A shadow of fear’
The League of United Latin American Citizens southeast vice president Lydia Medrano said that Governor DeSantis’s actions have “created a shadow of fear within communities across the state”.
Florida is one of the most popular states in the US for tourism – more than 137.5 million visited the state last year and the industry supports 1.6 million jobs.
Democratic mayors distance themselves from state’s governor
Perhaps with that in mind, some the state’s Democratic mayors were quick to distance themselves from the state’s intolerant image.
St Petersburg mayor Ken Welch tweeted: “Everyone is always welcome and will be treated with dignity and respect.”
Tampa mayor Jane Castor tweeted: “Diversity and inclusion are central to what makes Tampa one of America’s greatest and friendliest cities. That will never change, regardless of what happens in Tallahassee.”
Mr DeSantis is expected to announce on Wednesday that he will run for the Republican presidential nomination.