Florida District Puts Content Warning Labels On School Library Books

Collier County Schools in Florida have placed warning labels on some books that are considered too obscene by some groups.

By Erika Hanson | Published

Uncertainty Over When Florida Students Will Be Able To Return To Schools Following Hurricane Ian

Collier County Schools

Collier County Schools have come up with an innovative way to handle the fierce debate over contentious literature in school libraries. Librarians across the nation are reporting that books are being challenged more than ever before. Some want to see books that may contain explicit material removed from schools altogether. While others feel that’s a decision each individual should get to make. But the southwest Florida school district is appealing to both sides of the debate, by slapping a content warning label on some books.

NBC News reports that Collier County Schools have labeled more than 100 books within the district’s school library system with warning labels to make parents aware that the material may be too mature for school readers. The advisory is plastered on the covers of physical copies and is also placed online as a warning via the district’s online reading catalog. These measures seem to appease both sides of the contentious argument over book banning by not necessarily removing them, but simply warning parents about the content within. However, not everyone is in agreeance with the decision.

Florida Freedom To Read Project (FFTRP) has petitioned to fight censorship of books across the state of Florida. The liberal nonprofit group brought attention to Collier County Schools’ decision to label some books on Twitter. In doing so, they called upon support against book censorship to “shift from advocacy to activism”. They fear that such school actions will only get worse over time.

Much of the pushback against challenged books and warning labels in Collier County schools among others is because of the trend in what type of books are being prohibited. Typically, it is those with sexual content being fought against. However, the majority of them all have one thing in common: an LGBTQ+ theme. According to CNN, the 10 most challenged books in schools this year all were stories about LGBTQ+ or black people. 

While some have fought to keep these books in school and allow individual families and children to make the decision themselves, others pointed out the explicit material within that many feel is too obscene for school altogether. Gender Queer, an LGBTQ+ story on most challenged lists, displays images of oral sex and has passages discussing sex and masturbation. Many parents want this material out of school libraries, so their children don’t ever have the opportunity to open the pages within.

According to reports, the Collier County Public schools made the call on how to decide which books need the content warning label based on a list of books from the Florida Citizens Alliance. The conservative group released a report titled Porn In Schools last year with a list of books families wanted to see removed from school libraries. The district’s superintendent ultimately called the warning labels a “compromise.” 

What constitutes inappropriate content in literature is subjective to all. Because of this, Collier County Public schools’ decision to add content labels to some books that are commonly challenged seems to be a great neutral take on the growing debate. But with the topic being such a hard-driven urgency in America right now, it seems to be not enough to those who wish to see the books entirely removed, and an overreach by those who oppose any censorship on the material in question.