Challenging subjects and discussions are becoming increasingly commonplace and the Escambia County School Board is no stranger to having to tackle controversy. Now, some educators in Escambia County Schools are moving to ban certain books that, they contend, promote LGBTQ issues and disparage police, and the ECSD administration will hold a public hearing to evaluate the matter.
A hearing will be held on Thursday, October 13th, 2022, at 3:00 p.m. in the J.E. Hall Center at 30 E Texar, Pensacola, FL 32503.
A workshop will be held by Escambia County Public Schools on October 10th, 2022, at 8 a.m.
At this time, over 100 books have been placed into a quarantine section that requires special permission from a student’s parent for the student to gain access to the texts.
According to the Pensacola News Journal, Vicki Baggett, a language arts teacher in Escambia County, is one of the driving forces behind the movement to ban students from accessing books she deems inappropriate for their age.
“I started profusely reading books,” Baggett told the PNJ. “I actually went into a dark place and it was because I had been exposed to pornography, to put it bluntly.”
Others do not share Ms. Baggett’s views and contend that restricting student access to controversial material inepts their ability to engage with the world when they become adults. They express that access to stories allows students to better empathize with others whose experiences may be different than their own.
“One of the fundamental purposes of literature is accomplished in the form of fiction,” Kevin Scott, chair of the English department at the University of West Florida told the PNJ. “Fiction, of any sort, requires that we connect to the lives of others. It’s an inherently humanizing process … reading about such characters in literature expands our understanding and encourages us to see the humanity in others.”
Parents and members of the community invested in the topic are encouraged to attend the meeting and let their opinions be heard.
ECPS School Board members have been deliberating a process by which to address books which have been challenged due to content. A Florida law pertaining to the Bible has been identified. Florida Statute 1003.45(1) states that “the district school board may install in the public schools in the district a secular program of education including, but not limited to, an objective study of the Bible and of religion.” Therefore, the Escambia County Public Schools will not move forward with the reconsideration of the Bible as a library or instructional resource, and will immediately return all copies to the general collections in district libraries.