DOE releases new training course for school librarians for instruction on race and LGBTQ+ issues

School librarians and media specialists in Florida now have to undergo training to help them understand new state laws like the parental rights in education act and the Governor’s so-called ‘Stop WOKE’ Act.

The training must be completed by July 1st.

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The hour-long PowerPoint video training is meant to help school librarians and media specialists understand new state laws limiting how race and LGBTQ+ issues can be taught in schools, so they can select books in compliance with those laws.

State Representative Sam Garrison (R-Orange Park) sponsored the bill in the 2022 legislative session.

“The standards set forth in the law are very clear. We want to be focused on education,” said Garrison.

Some of the slides in the presentation developed by the Department of Education use definitions that mirror state statutes.

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Others tell librarians to consider things like, “avoiding unsolicited theories that may lead to indoctrination” when selecting books.

Andrew Spar with the Florida Education Association said parts of the training seem open to interpretation.

“Now we’re putting our librarians in the middle of some of these debates between some parents who feel that certain books shouldn’t be in schools and other parents who believe books should be in schools,” said Spar.

Garrison said he wrote the bill and put the onus on DOE to develop the training to avoid over-legislating.

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“And the fine-point details ought to be worked out on a district-by-district level,” said Garrison.

The new law includes more than just training.

It also requires districts to make all learning materials in school libraries available online, so parents can access them.

Districts will also have to report objections to learning materials and the outcome of those objections to the Department of Education on an annual basis.

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