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'The Hill We Climb' poet 'gutted' by request to remove book from Florida library

Amanda Gorman said she was "gutted" that her poem "The Hill We Climb" was moved to a section for middle school students after a parent at a Florida school requested it be removed. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Amanda Gorman said she was "gutted" that her poem "The Hill We Climb" was moved to a section for middle school students after a parent at a Florida school requested it be removed. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

May 24 (UPI) -- Poet Amanda Gorman said she was "gutted" by an attempt to remove the poem she read at President Joe Biden's inauguration from a Florida school.

Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate, shared a photo of a complaint requesting that her poem The Hill We Climb be removed from "the total environment" of Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes, Fla."

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"I'm gutted. Because of one parent's complaint, my inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb, has been banned from an elementary school in Miami-Dade County Florida," Gorman wrote in a statement.

"Unnecessary book bans like these are on the rise, and we must fight back," she added.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools said that the book was "never banned or removed" but was moved to a section for middle schoolers.

"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," the school district said in a statement.

Gorman, however, countered that "any action taken against a book that leaves access to a book restricted or diminished" constitutes a "school book ban."

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"The decision of moving my book from its original place, taken after one parent complained, diminishes access to elementary schoolers would have previously had to my poem," she said.

Documents obtained by Freedom to Read, reveal that a parent of two students at Bob Graham Education Center submitted forms requesting a review of five pieces of literature for removal.

The request said that The Hill We Climb was "not educational," contained "hate messages" and would "cause confusion and indoctrinate students" and said it was "not for schools" in a section asking what age group the parent would recommend it for.

In addition to The Hill We Climb, the panel also recommended that The ABCs of Black History, Cuban Kids and Love to Langston should also be placed in the middle school section in response to the request.

It said the fifth book Countries in the News Cuba was "balanced and age-appropriate in its wording and presentation" and would remain available in the elementary section.

According to the Miami Herald, access to literature in Florida school libraries has become increasingly fraught since Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill banning education on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The bill has been dubbed the "don't say gay" bill by critics.

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Penguin Books, who publish Gorman, had previously joined a lawsuit filed by Pen America against Florida's Escambia County School District alleging books that it has restricted are "disproportionately books by non-white and/or LGBTQ+ authors."

Gorman was insistent that her work is intended to inspire children.

"I wrote The Hill We Climb so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment. I've received countless letters and videos from children inspired by The Hill We Climb to write their own poems," Gorman tweeted Tuesday.

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