African American School Board Members in Florida Defend DeSantis, Slam News Media’s ‘Book Ban Hoax’

Two African American School Board members defended Gov. Ron DeSantis after the administration rejected the initial AP African Americans studies course.

Torey Alston, a member of the Broward County School Board spoke during the presentation, where he testified to the state’s devotion to covering black history. “I know personally, ” Alston said. “As an African American leader in South Florida,I have been very clear. This administration supports African American history, as we know that actual African American history is a significant part of American history.”

Alston said Broward schools are fully compliant with Florida law, which requires the teachings of African American history.

Tia Bess, a member of Moms for Liberty and a board member for the Duval County School District. She discussed how she’d switched political parties from Democrat to Republican and called for Americans to do their own research and criticized the “fake news” for misinformation and biases in their reporting. Bess said “CRT does not belong” in Florida schools.

This week, Gov. DeSantis published a news release that highlighted the state’s education requirements that include extensive coverage of African American history, including racism, the civil rights struggles, and social issues involving discrimination. The presentation was made weeks after the Advanced Placement College Board published revisions to course curriculum for AP African-American studies, noting that the changes came from “the input of professors” and “longstanding A.P. principles.”

“Exposing the ‘book ban’ hoax is important because it reveals that some are attempting to use our schools for indoctrination,” said DeSantis. “In Florida, pornographic and inappropriate materials that have been snuck into our classrooms and libraries to sexualize our students violate our state education standards. Florida is the education state and that means providing students with a quality education free from sexualization and harmful materials that are not age appropriate.”

The governor’s office released a myth vs. fact list as a rebuttal to recent claims and narratives seen in national and state news media:

Myth: Florida schools have been directed to “empty libraries” and “cover classroom books.”

Fact: School districts are required to report the number of books removed from schools based on legislation passed in 2022. Of the 23 districts that reported removing materials, the most removed were tied at 19 in Duval and St. Johns Counties — not even close to a whole classroom library.

Of the 175 books removed across the state, 164 (94%) were removed from media centers, and 153 (87%) were identified as pornographic, violent, or inappropriate for their grade level.

Myth: Florida is banning children’s books about Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente.

Fact: Books found by parents in Florida schools:

  • Gender Queer: A Memoir – an explicit, pornographic book showing sex acts.
  • Flamer – a graphic book about young boys performing sexual acts at a summer camp.
  • This Book Is Gay – a book containing instructions on “the ins and outs of gay sex.”
  • Let’s Talk About It – a book that contains graphic depictions about how to masturbate for males and females.

Myth: Florida has banned the instruction of African American History, including the discussion of slavery and the aftermath of slavery.

Fact: Under Governor DeSantis, instruction on African American History has only expanded. The Governor has signed legislation that ensures that Florida’s students learn about the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots in addition to requiring instruction on slavery, the Civil War, and Jim Crow laws.

Additionally, the following is required instruction on the history of African Americans in Florida statute:

  • The history of African peoples before the political conflicts that led to the development of slavery
  • The passage to America
  • The enslavement experience
  • Abolition
  • The history and contributions of Americans of the African diaspora to society

HB 7, signed in 2022, further expanded instruction of African American History to develop students’ understanding of the ramifications of prejudice and racism.

Myth: Florida teachers could be committing a 3rd-degree felony by having books on “certain topics” within their classrooms.

Fact: Florida has taken a stand against pornography and sexual material in the classroom. HB 1557 and HB 1467 further solidify Florida’s commitment to ensuring that content available in our schools is appropriate for students.

Statute 847.012 has been in law for many years and carries a felony penalty for the distribution of pornographic material to children.

“Education is about the pursuit of truth, not woke indoctrination,” said Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “Under Governor DeSantis, Florida is committed to rigorous academic content and high standards so that students learn how to think and receive the tools necessary to go forth and make great decisions.”

Matt O'Hern
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