Fact Checking a Viral Claim About Banned Books

A viral tweet from actor Mark Hamill claims to show a list of books that have been banned from Florida schools. The list includes books such as the Harry Potter series, 1984, and The Handmaid’s Tale.

This list is fake. Florida passed a law in March that allows parents to review which books are required reading and books found in the library, and under the new law the parents can also contest materials. The law also requires the state to maintain a list of materials that school districts remove as a result of parental complaints. But that decision to ban books or other teaching materials falls to the school districts, not the state itself.

Florida statute 1006.28 establishes: “Each district school board is responsible for the content of all instructional materials and any other materials used in a classroom, made available in a school library, or included on a reading list, whether adopted and purchased from the state-adopted instructional materials list.”

The press secretary for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis noted that To Kill a Mockingbird—one of the books on the fake list—is not only not banned, but is recommended reading. In an email to The Dispatch Fact Check, Jeremy Redfern, deputy press secretary for DeSantis, pointed out that 1984, Call of the Wild, Of Mice and Men, and Lord of the Flies are also all on Florida’s list of recommended books for school curriculum. 

“As far as I see it, this is just a completely fictitious list made by people potentially living in an alternate reality,” said Redfern.

If you have a claim you would like to see us fact check, please send us an email at factcheck@thedispatch.com. If you would like to suggest a correction to this piece or any other Dispatch article, please email corrections@thedispatch.com.

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