The cover of Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

Conservatives Are Predictably Banning Books About Book Bans From Florida Schools

In Florida, a “Moms for Liberty” member successfully managed to ban a book about book banning from the Indian River County school district, as the wide-reaching censorship campaign continues.

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Moms for Liberty is a far-right extremist group with origins in Florida. One of the organization’s biggest initiatives has been leading book bans and censorship in schools across the nation. Since 2021, the group has persistently targeted any book that references race, the LGBTQ+ community, or touches on women’s issues. It even created a 111-page document targeting numerous books and compiling passages out of context to make them appear questionable. Many parents now utilize this misleading guide to find books to challenge and ban in their local schools without ever having to read them. Some Moms for Liberty members have also become serial book banners, each singlehandedly filing hundreds of complaints at their local school districts, which cost libraries unfathomable amounts of labor and resources to review.

Meanwhile, book banners are continuously widening the range of things they want to ban. Their efforts have grown to include banning book awards, redacting entire chapters of textbooks, and even censoring Girl Scout projects. As a result, it’s hardly surprising conservatives have now taken to banning books about book bans.

Moms for Liberty bans Alan Gratz’s Ban This Book

Young adult author Alan Gratz published Ban This Book in 2017. The children’s book tells the heartwarming story of Amy Anne Ollinger, a young girl who is shocked to discover her favorite book has been banned from her school’s library because one parent complained about it. As a result, she decides to take action and begins running a secret banned book library from her school locker. It’s a funny and powerful story that has become all the more relevant as book banning skyrockets across the country.

While Florida is notorious for banning books in its schools, Gratz’s book was so innocent that The Indian River County school district’s book-review committee deemed it appropriate to place in schools. However, that didn’t stop Moms for Liberty member Jennifer Pippin from demanding that the book be banned. Pippin is the head of her area’s local Moms for Liberty chapter, and she challenged Gratz’s book upon learning of its presence in two elementary schools and a middle school.

She brought her complaint to the school board, which decided it had the authority to vote to overturn the book review committee’s decision. Given that two members of the board, Jacqueline Rosario and Gene Posca, are backed by Moms for Liberty and a third, Kevin McDonald, was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, it’s not surprising the board voted to ban the book by a 3–2 vote.

In a meeting about the book, McDonald declared the school board “the final authority for our citizens.” He also claimed that the book’s title and theme “challenges” the school board’s “authority.” It’s quite chilling to hear a school board claim that it is the highest level of authority for state residents and demonstrate it will censor anyone who dares challenge its supposed sovereignty.

As students, parents, and teachers increasingly report being barred from school board decisions regarding book bans, much concern has arisen over how these individuals may be abusing their power and lacking transparency in their decisions. However, this is one of the first times a board has so boldly claimed to be the sole authority in determining what books students have access to.

It’s also quite sinister to see the board ban Ban This Book for the exact reason Gratz wrote it. He wrote it so that children would know they have rights and don’t have to be complacent in the face of blatant censorship. These children should be challenging school boards’ “authority” because it should never simply be up to one or three people to decide which books or textbook chapters should be stripped from an entire school district without the slightest consideration of students’ wants and needs.

Books like Gratz’s are becoming more and more important to remind children of their First Amendment rights, especially as conservatives now openly try to present themselves as the “final authority” in the country.

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.