Florida school district pulls over 1,600 books for review to possibly be banned — including dictionaries


A Florida school district has pulled over 1,600 books from its library shelves for review — including Webster’s Dictionary for Students — to ensure they comply with the state’s new sex education law that prohibits books describing sexual content. 

The Escambia County Public School District, in the Florida Panhandle, pulled five dictionaries, eight encyclopedias and “The Guinness Book of World Records.” It’s also reviewing the biographies of Beyoncé and Oprah Winfrey, Anne Frank’s diary and “The Autobiography of Malcom X,” according to the Florida Freedom to Read Project, a group that seeks to protect students’ right to information.

While the books haven’t been banned altogether, they will be reviewed to assure they follow guidelines laid out in Florida’s House Bill 1069, which restricts public school instruction on reproductive health and related sex topics in sixth through 12th grade. 

The bill was signed in May and took effect in July, and was part of a series of bills in the state Legislature that sought to regulate how sex and gender identity are taught in public school settings.

It’s not clear when a final decision will be made on which books can return to school shelves and which should be banned.

NBC News has reached out to the Escambia County School District for comment.

District spokesperson Cody Strother told the Pensacola News Journal that the 1,000+ books referred to by the Florida Freedom to Read Project “have not been banned or removed from the school district; rather, they have simply been pulled for further review to ensure compliance with the new legislation.”

That same school district had been sued by the writers’ group PEN America, publisher Penguin Random House and authors whose books were banned in the district.

On Wednesday, a Pensacola judge ruled the lawsuit can move forward, finding the case had merit under the First Amendment’s free speech protections, but denied a claim under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.