JACKSONVILLE, Fla —
Are teachers in the state of Florida committing a third-degree felony by having books and literature about certain topics in their classroom?
- Duval County Public School
- The Florida Department of Education
- 2022 Florida Statues
WHAT WE FOUND
A memo from the state Department of Education to Florida school superintendents in June 2022 states that classroom "book selections meet the selection criteria in section (s.) 1006.40 3d.
The law states that instructional material be:
- Free of pornography and material prohibited under s. 847.012.
- Suited to student needs and their ability to comprehend the material presented.
- Appropriate for the grade level and age group for which the materials are used or made available.
The statute 847.012 says distribution of pornography is punishable as a third-degree felony, but it also covers age-appropriate classroom material, which for 3rd grade and younger also forbids subjects of racial issues and sexual orientation.
Duval County schools has shared the following with its teachers:
Under new Florida law, all books in elementary school libraries (including classroom collections for independent reading) must be reviewed by a certified media specialist. State training on these new laws requires that books be free from:
- Pornography – defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary as “the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement.”
- Instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in grades kindergarten through three.
- Discrimination in such a way that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin is inherently racist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
In the training, Florida educators are reminded that violation of this provision is a third-degree felony."
First Coast News has reached out to the Florida Department of Education asking about specific actions in which teachers would be charged with a third-degree felony. The DOE sent the following response:
"Any adult, not just a teacher, who knowingly provides a minor obscene material described in section 847.012(3), Florida Statues, could be prosecuted for a third-degree felony. This law is not new nor is it specific to library media materials. See section 847.012(5)."