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Saint Petersburg organizations open ‘Banned Book Library’

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Tampa Bay Now) – Local organizations are teaming up to create a library of banned books.

This is because schools are now required to filter out books deemed inappropriate for students under a new law signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis.

The library of banned books just started last week and the American Stage has already collected many books deemed inappropriate for students in local school districts.

“If students at school can’t read these books, we’ll find a way to get them to them,” said American Stage’s Avery Anderson.

Anderson has a new mission apart from theater with American Stage.

“We believe in powerful storytelling and that includes literature,” Anderson said.

It all started last year when Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new measure setting certain standards for books in schools.

According to the rules, books should not be considered pornographic and should be appropriate for the age group. The rules also state that books should not be biased when it comes to race, cultural diversity, and socio-economic issues.

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“At first it’s very surprising to think that in America we would have a conversation about banning literature or art in any way,” Anderson said.

Now Anderson and several other organizations are fighting back.

“Pick a book, we’ll ask you to return it or you’ll donate another book,” Anderson said.

Called the Banned Book Library, it contains books that have been removed or considered controversial among Florida school districts.

“It’s so important that we continue to represent the full human experience in our literature and remain accessible to our youth and in our school and our libraries,” said Jagneaux.

Kelsey Jagneaux works with a bookstore called Tombolo Books and her store helps collect these banned books.

“Restricting access to information and stories from people outside of ourselves is one of the quickest ways to dehumanize people,” says Jagneaux.

Some of the books considered controversial in local districts include To Kill a Mockingbird, The Handmaid’s Tail, The Bluest Eye, and Gender Queer.

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Books that Anderson says are necessary for students.

“They’re not exposed to those different perspectives and they might not be able to say ‘Oh hey. That’s me. I see myself there,'” Anderson said.

If you are interested in donating to the Library of Banned Books, please contact American Stage.

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