Amanda Gorman responds to Florida school restricting her Biden inauguration poem

Author: Christopher Brito / CBS
Published: Updated:
Poet Amanda Gorman speaks to CBS Mornings. Credit: CBS

Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb” has been restricted at a school in Florida, drawing criticism from Gorman herself.

Gorman, who made history as the youngest known inaugural poet after performing at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, said in a Twitter post on Tuesday that she’s “gutted” over the move.

“I wrote The Hill We Climb so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment,” she 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 free speech.”

The Miami Herald reported that a K-8 school in Miami-Dade County issued restrictions for elementary-aged students on three books and a poem after a parent complained about five titles. According to the outlet, a parent at Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes objected to “The ABCs of Black History,” “Cuban Kids,” “Countries in the News Cuba,” “Love to Langston” and The Hill We Climb. The Miami Herald obtained the complaints through the Florida Freedom to Read Project, a parent-led advocacy group fighting for children’s access for information.

Gorman shared a copy of the complaint targeting her book (the poem was published as a short book), and it showed the parent incorrectly referred to her as “Oprah Winfrey” under the author’s publisher section and claimed the book wasn’t “educational” and has “indirect hate messages” on pages 12-13. The parent also wrote it could “cause confusion” and “indoctrinate students,” according to the complaint.

The Miami-Dade County Public School said in a statement to CBS News that “no literature (books or poem) has been banned or removed.”

“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 book remains available in the media center.”

In a tweet, the Florida Freedom to Read Project pointed out the book will be available to students grades 6-8 and restricted from lower grades within the school.

Gorman’s publisher, Penguin Random House, joined Pen America, authors and others in a lawsuit against Florida’s Escambia County this month accusing the school district of violating the First Amendment for its removal of books discussing race, racism and LGBTQ+ identities. The legal action comes amid a push by Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who isn’t named in the lawsuit, to allow the censorship and challenging of books based on whether they are appropriate for children in schools.

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