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Business News/ Education / Shakespeare gets a red flag in Florida schools amid concerns over sexual content. All you need to know

Shakespeare gets a red flag in Florida schools amid concerns over sexual content. All you need to know

Florida schools limit or remove classic literature due to concerns about sexual content, sparking debate and lawsuits.

Florida schools removing Shakespeare due to sexual content concernsPremium
Florida schools removing Shakespeare due to sexual content concerns

Florida schools are facing concerns over sexual content in their educational materials, leading some districts to remove works by William Shakespeare from their curriculum. Following the adoption of the Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking standards in 2020, Florida's Department of Education distributed recommended reading lists that included renowned literary works. The list said “top of the line literary works with world renowned titles."

Among the authors on the high school list was William Shakespeare. However, three years later, several Florida school districts are avoiding Shakespeare's works and other classics due to new state laws restricting materials with sexual content. Hillsborough County is the latest district to make this move, instructing teachers to assign excerpts from plays like "Romeo and Juliet" instead of the full text, Tampa Bay Times reported.

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Joseph Cool, a teacher at Gaither High School, criticised the move, stating, "Taking Shakespeare in its entirety out because the relationship between Romeo and Juliet is somehow exploiting minors is just absurd." She added “I think the rest of the nation — no, the world, is laughing at us," after learning of the directive.

The availability of books has become a contentious issue in Florida's public schools, with various groups advocating for the removal or retention of certain titles. In Lake County, the removal of the book "And Tango Makes Three" led to a lawsuit earlier this year, which became irrelevant after the district reinstated the book following clarifications from the state Department of Education, News Service of Florida reported. District officials stated that they returned the book as state laws restricting instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation do not apply to independent reading material.

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Northeast Florida school districts are reviewing an increasing number of titles for compliance with state laws, WJAX reported. The process involves significant expenditures as school districts allocate funds to review and categorise millions of books, Politico Florida reported. WKMG reported that media specialists have also been inspecting millions of books.

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Published: 09 Aug 2023, 01:37 PM IST
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