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Florida school bans poem read at Biden’s inauguration as concerns increase about state’s growing restrictions

After a single complaint, a Florida school banned the poem that was read at Joe Biden’s inauguration.

The parent who refused to be named said that Amanda Gorman’s poem The Hill We Climb contained “indirectly” hate messages and could “cause students confusion and indoctrinate them”.

Gorman, 25, posted on Instagram that the poem was banned in Miami-Dade County elementary schools. She said she felt “gutted”.

She said: “Let us be clear. Most of the forbidden books are written by authors who have fought for generations to make it onto book shelves. Most of these works have been censored because they are written by queer or non-white authors.


Gorman stated that she wrote the poem so that “all young people can see themselves in an historical moment”. She also said that she received “countless” letters and videos from children who were inspired to write poetry of their own.

She added, “Refusing children the opportunity to express themselves in literature is an infringement of their rights to free thought and freedom of speech.”

The poem was banned at a moment when Governor Ron DeSantis, along with other politicians, are working to make Florida more restrictive and less tolerant.

The Human Rights Campaign, along with the NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens as well as the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Equality Florida, issued travel or relocation alerts for the Sunshine State on Tuesday.

The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman

We ask ourselves, “Where can we find the light in this endless shade?”

We must face the sea of loss that we bear.

We braved the stomach of the beast.

We have learned that peace is not always quiet.

Justice is not always based on the notions and norms of “justice”.

We were unaware of the dawn that was coming.

We manage to do it somehow.

We’ve seen and experienced a country that hasn’t been broken.

But it is not finished.

We are the descendants of a nation and an era where a thin black girl, descended from slaves, and raised by a mother who was a single parent, could dream of becoming a president. But instead, she found herself reciting in front of one.

Read the complete poem here

“Openly hostile” laws and policies

The LGBT+ advocacy group said it was not calling for a boycott of travel to Florida but that it wanted to highlight new laws passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature that are hostile to its community, restrict abortion access and allow Floridians to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

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The NAACP (the oldest civil rights organization in the US) said last weekend that tourists should be aware of the fact that the US state “devalues, marginalises, and ignores the contributions and challenges of African Americans and communities of color”.

The statement also stated that the recent laws and policies championed and supported by Mr DeSantis, and others, are “openly antagonistic” towards these groups as well as LGBTQ+ people.

Florida’s leaders in recent months have:

* Back measures that prohibit state colleges from offering programmes on diversity and equality, as well critical race theory

* The Stop WOKE Act was passed, which restricts race-based discussions in schools and businesses

* Local governments are prohibited from giving money to organizations that issue ID cards illegally to US citizens

Undocumented migrants’ invalid driver’s licenses

* Hospitals accepting Medicaid are required to ask a question about citizenship on their forms. Critics say this is to discourage illegal immigrants from seeking medical care.

* Removing books that have gay characters and limiting discussion about LGBTQ issues in schools

Equality Florida stated: “Taken as a whole, Florida’s laws and policies that target basic freedoms and human rights present a serious threat to the health and security of visitors to the state.”

Click here to read more

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“A Shadow of Fear”

Lydia Medrano, vice president of the League of United Latin American Citizens Southeast, said that Governor DeSantis’s actions had “created an atmosphere of fear in communities throughout the state.”

Florida is the number one state in the US when it comes to tourism. More than 137.5 millions people visited Florida last year, and the industry supports more than 1.6 million jobs.

Democratic Mayors distance themselves with state’s Governor

Some Democratic mayors of the state were quick to distance their state from its intolerant image.

St Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch said on Twitter: “Everyone will always be welcomed and treated with dignity and respectful.”

Jane Castor, the mayor of Tampa, tweeted: “Diversity is at the heart of what makes Tampa America’s friendliest city.” This will not change no matter what happens in Tallahassee.

DeSantis will announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination to be president on Wednesday.


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