Diyosa Carter/Getty Images

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — As Florida schools face a growing number of book ban attempts, Gov. Ron DeSantis is scaling back policies that made it easier for people to challenge materials in schools.

In 2022, DeSantis signed HB 1467, which required elementary schools to provide a searchable list of the books accessible to students in libraries or classrooms and allow for public comment on all new materials.

Other recent legislation signed by DeSantis, including the Parental Rights in Education Bill and the Stop WOKE Act, restricts content on race and LGBTQ identities in schools and has further impacted access to classroom materials.

Florida law also allows parents and residents to object to books and have them reviewed and potentially removed from schools.

Since the implementation of these laws, Florida has seen a rise in book banning attempts across the state, according to the American Library Association (ALA) and free speech advocacy group PEN America.

Now, DeSantis has signed HB 1285, which he said will limit the amount of book objections that can be made by people who don’t have a child who is accessing school materials. Parents of children in the school districts or using district materials will still be able to object to an unlimited amount of material.

According to DeSantis, the book transparency efforts were aimed at removing “explicit” material from schools. Critics of these policies argued their vague restrictions would lead to censorship.

In the first half of this school year alone, PEN America found that Florida experienced the highest number of ban cases with 3,135 attempts across 11 school districts.

More than 1,600 of those book banning attempts took place in Escambia County Public Schools, which is currently being sued by book publisher Penguin Random House, authors and PEN America for removing hundreds of books off shelves for review.

These groups found that political groups like Moms for Liberty and politicized individuals are behind large swaths of book challenges nationwide, sometimes demanding the censorship of multiple titles — often dozens or hundreds at a time.

The vast majority of the books impacted by these banning efforts are written by or about people of color and the LGBTQ community, according to the ALA.

DeSantis’ office said the recent change to these policies “protects schools from activists trying to politicize and disrupt a district’s book review process.”

“What’s happened though, is you have some people who are taking the curriculum transparency and are trying to weaponize that for political purposes that involves objecting to normal books,” said DeSantis in a Tuesday press conference. “Some of the books I saw in the teachers lounge, the classic books, there’s people that will try to get to that because they wanna create a narrative. It’s like, ‘oh, all these books, we don’t know what’s lawful or not to have.’ That’s nonsense.”

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.