A 17-year-old gay student who was suspended for leading protests at his high school against Florida’s so-called Don’t Say Gay legislation says school administrators are now stopping him from running for senior class president. Jack Petocz made the announcement Tuesday on Twitter. He says because of the disciplinary infractions he received for leading the protests at Flagler Palm Coast High School in March, school administrators are preventing him for running for the elected student body office. In an email, school district spokesman Jason Wheeler says Flagler Schools is not permitted to speak about individual students’ disciplinary records. Wheeler also notes that requirements for individual clubs or organizations are set by the schools.
A school board in southwestern Idaho has permanently banned 22 popular books from the district’s libraries, including Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Khaled Hosseini’s “Kite Runner.” The Idaho Press reports the Nampa School Board made the vote on Monday after the books were brought to the attention of the district over accusations they contain pornography. But some of the books are rated as having little or no sexual content by Common Sense Media, an organization that provides age-based ratings for books, movies and video games. The board’s vote ended a review process that was already underway by district committees that included parents and staffers.
The American Library Association, the American Federation of Teachers and more than a dozen other organizations have formed a coalition to fight the nationwide wave of book bans and challenges. Unite Against Book Bans also includes the publishers Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, and the National Coalition Against Censorship. Resources will include helping community members draft petitions, forming questionnaires for political candidates and designing graphics for social media. The library association reported last month that it tracked nearly 1,600 attempts to ban books in 2021, the highest since it began recording challenges more than 20 years ago.
Nashville Public Library is responding to library scrutiny in Tennessee with a goal to distribute 5,000 “I read banned books” library cards this month. Library Director Kent Oliver says the library will always respect people's freedom to choose what they and their children will read. The library is showcasing books that have been banned or challenged for potential banning across the country. Book banning put Tennessee in the national spotlight recently after books were removed in two school districts. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says he plans to sign a bill that would would let a politically appointed panel remove books from public school libraries statewide.
Best-selling author Dave Eggers is offering high school seniors in South Dakota’s second-largest city free copies of his book “The Circle” and copies of four books by other authors that were removed from the district’s schools. School administrators in Rapid City deemed the books inappropriate for high school students and and marked the district’s copies as surplus to be destroyed. Eggers said, “The mass destruction of books by school boards is an unconscionable horror, and the freethinking young people of South Dakota shouldn’t be subjected to it." Eggers said Rapid City seniors can receive any of the books that were pulled from the high school at no cost to them by emailing collaborator of his.
The leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that would throw out the court’s Roe v. Wade ruling has sent people into the streets around the nation. Around 1,000 people gathered in front of the Supreme Court in Washington Tuesday. One demonstrator carried a sign declaring, “If men could get pregnant, abortions would be available at every ATM.” At a rally in Manhattan, New York state Attorney General Letitia James announced that she had an abortion nearly two decades ago. Smaller protests were held in Austin, Texas; Los Angeles and San Francisco in California and elsewhere.
The bombshell leak of a draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case legalizing abortion nationwide has set the country on course for an even more polarized and fluctuating landscape of abortion rights. Almost immediately, Republicans who had fostered a decades-long push to end abortion rights cheered Roe’s potential fall. Democrats vowed to fight the possible loss of a constitutional right that has been in place for nearly a half-century. About half of U.S. states are expected to ban abortion if Roe falls and 13 states have so-called trigger laws that would immediately ban abortion if it is overturned.
A draft opinion that suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision is reverberating in political battleground Michigan. The state has a pre-Roe abortion ban that may take effect and is unlikely to be changed by the Republican-led Legislature. There is increased attention in Michigan on the state courts, where Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Planned Parenthood have filed lawsuits seeking to invalidate the 1931 law. The development also is putting a focus on the November election, when the governor and legislators are up for reelection and voters may decide whether to enshrine abortion rights in the Michigan Constitution.
Tennessee lawmakers have closed out the 2022 legislative session by passing a bill that lets a politically appointed panel remove books from public school libraries statewide through a new veto power over local school board decisions. The Republican-supermajority Legislature also worked out remaining differences Thursday on an education funding formula overhaul spearheaded by Gov. Bill Lee. They passed tougher campaign finance and ethics rules amid a federal investigation that has already seen one House Republican plead guilty and resign. Those proposals and many more will head to the Republican governor, who has never vetoed a bill. The election-year session began in January.
Tennessee Republicans have advanced legislation that would place more scrutiny over what books are placed in public schools libraries just moments after the bill’s House sponsor said any inappropriate book should be burned. The measure is just one of several proposals introduced in Tennessee this year designed to impose more scrutiny and transparency in public school libraries amid a national spike in book challenges and bans. Republican Rep. Jerry Sexton introduced an amendment this week to a school bill that would give the state’s textbook commission veto power over what books end in school libraries. Sexton says he would burn any book deemed inappropriate for schools, but said that likely won't happen since he's not on the commission.
A Florida teen who became a prominent opponent of the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill will be honored at next month’s PEN America gala. Jack Petocz, a high school junior, will be presented the PEN/Benenson Freedom of Expression Courage Award. “Jack Petocz is leading his generation in fighting back against book bans and legislative efforts to police how individual identities can be discussed in schools,” Suzanne Nossel, CEO of the literary and human rights organization, said in a statement Wednesday. Asia Kate Dillon, known for their roles in “Orange Is the New Black” and “Billions,” will present the award.