Poet Amanda Gorman spoke out after her poem The Hill We Climb, which she recited at President Joe Biden‘s presidential inauguration, was removed from an elementary school in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
The poem was pulled from the elementary school and made accessible to the district’s middle-schoolers instead. The switch followed a complaint from a parent who raised concerns about references to “critical race theory” and “hate messages” in a series of books, including the poem that launched Gorman to national prominence in January 2021.
The removal comes amid debate over which content is appropriate for elementary-schoolers. Halls of knowledge across the United States have faced accusations of banning books, particularly those that feature diverse characters. Critics say these bans are meant to silence people of color and the LGBTQ+ community, but proponents of these policies say they protect children from learning about topics not deemed age- appropriate. According to the American Library Association (ALA), book bans increased 40 percent in 2022.
Gorman condemned the school’s banning of her poem in a tweet Tuesday afternoon.
Gorman wrote she is “gutted” by the decision to remove her poem from the elementary school, which she said was caused by only “one parent’s complaint.” She called attention to most of the books subject to bans as being written “by authors who have struggled for generations to get on bookshelves,” including “queer and non-white voices.”
“I wrote The Hill We Climb so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment,” Gorman wrote. “Ever since, I’ve received countless letters and videos from children inspired by The Hill We Climb to write their own poems. Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and speech.”
Newsweek has reached out via email to the Miami-Dade County School District for comment.
A school district spokesperson, Elmo R. Lugo, told Axios that the poem was not banned from schools, but was deemed more appropriate for middle-schoolers.
“It was determined at the school that “The Hill We Climb” is better suited for middle school students and, it was shelved in the middle school section of the media center,” the statement reads. “The book remains available in the media center.”
Reports from Florida have revealed that a wide array of books, including The Life of Rosa Parks and textbooks about the Holocaust, have been removed from schools as Republicans have targeted what they describe as “woke” education.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, however, has dismissed claims of book bans, accusing the media of creating a “false narrative” and “hoax” over the issue.
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