Florida Department of Education: Incorrect guidance on library materials law


Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

In 2023, the Florida Department of Education issued inaccurate guidance on a state law concerning K-12 school library materials. The guidance incorrectly claimed the law categorically bans public school libraries from carrying material that “depicts or describes sexual conduct.” Schools across Florida appeared to follow the FLDOE guidance by permanently removing hundreds of library books rather than follow the law’s requirement to evaluate the age-appropriateness of challenged books for different grade levels. 

On May 16, FIRE wrote FLDOE urging it to issue revised guidance to avoid depriving students access to age-appropriate library materials based on misinterpretations of state law. On May 28, FIRE followed up its letter to the Florida Department of Education with a public comment concerning its proposed library media training document, which similarly misinterpreted state law governing school library materials. The following day, before approving the training document, the DOE amended the inaccurate slide flagged by FIRE. The amended materials now accurately reflect the law and make clear that districts must evaluate challenged library books’ suitability for students of different grade levels, rather than impose a blanket ban on materials depicting or describing “sexual conduct.”