Story at a glance

  • A school board member in Florida’s Flagler County School District wants criminal charges brought to the people responsible for bringing “All Boys Aren’t Blue” into school libraries.
  • Fellow board members and students protested that move.
  • The school district has removed four copies of the book from circulation until a review process is conducted.

The national trend sweeping schools across the country in banning books has taken a new turn in Florida, where one school board member is seeking criminal charges for allowing a book about a Black queer boy in school libraries.

“All Boys Aren’t Blue” is a memoir-manifesto that features a series of personal essays written by journalist and LGBTQIA activist George M. Johnson. In the book, Johnson explores his childhood and adolescence growing up as a Black gay man. 

The book was listed in the American Library Association’s Rainbow List, in New York Public Library’s Best Books of 2020, Chicago Public Library’s Best Teen Nonfiction of 2020 and was listed as the #1 book in the Young Adult Library Services Association’s 2021 Teens’ Top Ten “teen choice” list.

Despite those accolades, Jill Woolbright, a member of Florida’s Flagler County School Board, filed a report with the county sheriff’s office last week over “All Boys Aren’t Blue.” According to CNN, the report claimed having the book in the district’s libraries is a crime.  

Woolbright said in her police report that whoever is responsible for allowing “All Boys Aren’t Blue” into the Flagler County School District, “should be held accountable.”


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Woolbright’s complaint led school officials to temporarily remove the book from school libraries. Jason Wheeler, a spokesman for the school district, told CNN that four copies of “All Boys Aren’t Blue” were removed from circulation as was a copy that had been purchased for a middle school campus, pending the outcome of a review process. 

One fellow school board member, Cheryl Massaro, wrote a lengthy Facebook post detailing her disagreement with Woolbright’s actions, saying she “crossed the line,” when she filed a criminal complaint.

Massaro went on to say that, “Ms. Woolbright is advocating for the removal of a number of books from the School District’s media centers based on her perception of their content.  Let me make this abundantly clear - I do not support censorship of these highly acclaimed and award-winning teen books!”

According to CNN, students of Flagler Palm Coast High School also came out to protest the removal of “All Boys Aren’t Blue” during a school board meeting on Tuesday. They believed Johnson’s book and others that address gender identity should be available at school libraries for students who may not feel seen, don’t have supportive family members or need someone to identify with.

“When I read that book, I identified a lot with Johnson's struggles, (with) constantly having that conversation brought up as a young kid -- are you gay? and the fear of that resonated with it," said Jack Petocz, a 17-year-old student of Flagler Palm Coast High School, to CNN.

Johnson also commented on the backlash his book is receiving, telling CNN that, “I've always been prepared for the moment that it was going to be attacked and banned because in America people have an issue with books that tell the truth and my book tells the truth."

Florida is far from the only state attempting to ban books from school libraries, with parents in Utah launching a campaign to ban books, a school board in Kansas announced it would remove 29 books from circulation and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a letter to the state’s Association of School Boards urging public schools to not provide, “pornographic or obscene material,” to students. 


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Published on Nov 18, 2021