Publishing powerhouse, authors and parents sue Florida school district over removal of ‘woke’ books

A Florida county school district is being sued by the nation’s largest book publisher, Penguin Random House, and PEN America, an organization that claims to “defend writers and journalists and protect free expression rights.”

The lawsuit, which was filed along with writers and parents, alleges that the Escambia County School District and school board violated the First Amendment when it removed woke books from its school libraries.

Because the removed or restricted books “were disproportionately written by nonwhite and L.G.B.T.Q. authors and addressed themes of race, racism, gender and sexuality,” the lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, also alleges the district and the school board violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause, according to The New York Times.

“Today, Escambia County seeks to bar books critics view as too ‘woke,'” the complaint reads.

“In the 1970s, schools sought to bar ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ and books edited by Langston Hughes,” it continues. “Tomorrow, it could be books about Christianity, the country’s founders or war heroes. All of these removals run afoul of the First Amendment.”

The subject of inappropriate books in Escambia County’s school libraries began, the complaint argues, when a Northview High School language-arts teacher, Vicki Baggett, challenged, starting last year, more than 100 questionable titles.

Books such as “And Tango Makes Three,” which features a penguin family with two fathers, serve an “LGBTQ agenda,” Baggett claimed. The books, she contented, “should be evaluated based on explicit sexual content, graphic language, themes, vulgarity and political pushes.”

According to the complaint, Baggett’s objections were “nakedly ideological.”

On Tuesday, Baggett spoke at an Escambia school board meeting and noted that the district had yet to remove many of the books deemed inappropriate for school children.

“I have been begging you simply to follow the law and remove books that are obviously inappropriate,” she said, according to The Times.

In a TikTok video, PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel called the book bans “egregious.”

“PEN America filed a lawsuit in Escambia County, Florida, challenging an egregious pattern of book bans,” she said.

“[T]hese bans run counter to our commitment to freedom of speech here in the United States,” she explained. “They are denying children the freedom to read, to learn, and it is important that a court step in and put these books back on the shelves.”

Penguin Random House CEO Nihar Malaviya called the move by Escambia County to pull the books a “threat to democracy.”

“Students in particular deserve equitable access to a wide range of perspectives,” Malaviya said. “Censorship, in the form of book bans like those enacted by Escambia County, are a direct threat to democracy and our constitutional rights.”

One of the books in question — All Boys Aren’t Blue, by George M. Johnson —  argues in its introduction (titled, “Black. Queer. Here.”) that “Gender is one of the biggest projections placed onto children at birth, despite families having no idea how the baby will truly turn out.”

“In our society,” Johnson writes, “a person’s sex is based on their genitalia. That decision is then used to assume a person’s gender as boy or girl, rather than a spectrum of identities that the child should be determining for themselves.”

As BizPac Review reported, in March, the office of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis released an explicit video at an “Exposing the Book Ban Hoax” press conference, detailing the pornographic books that have been found within the state’s public schools.

“These books violate Florida standards and curriculum,” the video stated. “The hoax from the left is that these books were never in Florida schools.”

“Every minute you spend focusing on some of this pornographic stuff, that’s less time you’re spending on doing the things that really matter to our kids, in terms of them getting the education they need in math and reading and all of these other things,” DeSantis said at the press conference. “The only way you make that decision, in my judgment, is if you’re putting your own agenda before the well-being of the students. And that’s something we’re seeing all too often.”


If you are fed up with letting radical big tech execs, phony fact-checkers, tyrannical liberals and a lying mainstream media have unprecedented power over your news please consider making a donation to American Wire News to help us fight them.

Thank you for your donation!
Melissa Fine


We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. If a comment is spam, instead of replying to it please click the ∨ icon below and to the right of that comment. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.

Latest Articles