(The Hill) – Author Judy Blume took aim at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for banning certain topics in schools and the state after some Florida school districts banned certain books from their shelves, including some of Blume’s own.
“Teachers are under fire, librarians are threatened,” Blume said at Variety‘s “Power of Women” luncheon on Tuesday. “They are criminalizing teachers and librarians. It’s not just that they’re threatening their jobs, they’re threatening them.” “They could go to jail, all because they stand up for the rights of the students they teach. All because they refuse to give in to fear,” Blume continued. “I’ve known librarians who have saved lives by handing the right book to the right child at the right time. And for that one kid, finding themselves in a book can be a lifesaver.”
DeSantis proposed an expansion last month to the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which currently bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity to students in pre-K to third grade. An expansion of the bill would extend this prohibition on teaching similar topics to students in grades 4-12. Some school districts in Florida have also banned books — including titles from Blume, James Patterson and Jodi Picoult — from their school libraries after DeSantis signed a bill requiring school libraries to seek the community input on the materials made available to children.
Blume is known for her books like “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” and “Deenie,” published in the 1970s that have received some backlash for including topics about puberty and sexuality. “I live in Key West — even though we like to pretend it’s not in Florida — we have the same governor,” Blume said, calling DeSantis “a governor who wants to control everything, starting with what kids can think, what they can know, what they can question, what they can learn, and now even what they can talk about.”
“We have a legislator who’s trying to put through a bill preventing girls in elementary school from talking about period,” she continued, adding “good luck there.” Picoult also voiced her concerns about Florida’s book ban to the authors of an op-ed published by the The Washington Post last month after Martin County in Florida banned twenty of her books at once. She said at the time that the books banned “include gay characters, and issues like racism, disability, abortion rights, gun control, and other topics that might make a kid think differently from their parents.”