Florida Polk County Schools Pull Raina Telgemeier's Drama From Shelves

Polk County in Florida is the latest to be subject to banning of the critically acclaimed bestselling graphic novels from schools, part of a series of such exclusions in recent years that Bleeding Cool has covered. Polk County Public Schools Superintendent Frederick Heid has asked middle and high school librarians to remove 16 books from schools for a review, after receiving complaints about the books from the activist group County Citizens Defending Freedom. And they include Drama by Raina Telgemeier, one of the bestselling graphic novels of recent times, from 35 locations. The graphic novel is a coming-of-age story involving the crew of a middle school musical has won both praise and criticism for its LGBTQ portrayal. My youngest has a copy on her bookshelf along with all of Raina's works.

Florida Polk County Schools Pull Raina Telgemeier's Drama From Shelves
Raina Telgemeier's Drama

County Citizens Defending Freedom describes itself as "an organization that empowers and equips American citizens to defend their freedoms and liberties at the local level. By streamlining and simplifying activism, we support and champion American citizens who want to stand up for their independence. To equip and empower American citizens to stand for and preserve freedom for themselves and future generations. To resolve breaches of freedom and liberty through local awareness, local light, and local action". And a vision to"see CCDF-USA affiliates spread organically in counties across America. To become the inspiration and action arm of local citizens to defend their faith, freedom, and liberty, while placing local governance under the watchful eye of local American citizens acting as patriots."

Florida Polk County Schools Pull Raina Telgemeier's Drama From Shelves
CCDF website screencap

In this case, that means fighting for the freedom to pull books from school shelves and against the freedom for kids to read them. And by pure coincidence, the sixteen titles named include gay themes like Drama or tackle racism. Frederick Heid told LKLD Now that the group's members allege they contain material harmful to minors which would violate Florida statute 847.012, which involves distribution of "harmful materials" to minors."While it is not the role of my office to approve/evaluate instructional or resource materials at that level, I do have an obligation to review any allegation that a crime is being or has been committed. It is also my obligation to provide safeguards to protect our employees." The named books are;

  • Drama by Raina Telgemeir
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hossein
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines
  • It's Perfectly Normal by Robert Harris, illustrated by Michael Emberley
  • Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart
  • George by Alex Gino
  • I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
  • Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
  • Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
  • Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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