Singer Pink will give away 2,000 free copies of books that have been “banned” by some schools in Florida to fans at her concerts in Miami this week.
The star has waded into the row over some libraries and classrooms removing books with sexual content or themes of sexuality, gender identity and race.
“It’s confusing, it’s infuriating, it is censorship,” she said.
Florida authorities say they want to restrict inappropriate and harmful material but that they don’t ban books.
Pink has joined forces with Pen America, a campaign group that says it defends freedom of expression for authors.
It says Florida has had more books banned than any other US state, accounting for more than 40% of all documented examples.
“Books have held a special joy for me from the time I was a child, and that’s why I am unwilling to stand by and watch while books are banned by schools,” Pink said in a statement released by the group.
“It’s especially hateful to see authorities take aim at books about race and racism and against LGBTQ authors and those of colour.
“We have made so many strides toward equality in this country and no-one should want to see this progress reversed.”
Copies of four books, which Pen America says have appeared in its Index of Banned Books, will be handed out at her shows in Miami on Tuesday and nearby Sunrise on Wednesday. They are:
- Beloved by Toni Morrison – Pulitzer Prize-winning 1987 novel about the horrors and legacy of slavery is “banned” from nine Florida school districts, Pen America says
- The Family Book by Todd Parr – young children’s picture book about different families including same-sex parents is on the list in three districts
- The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman – the poem written for President Joe Biden’s inauguration was moved from the elementary library to the middle school section in a Miami school
- Girls Who Code by Reshma Saujani – was reportedly temporarily removed by a district in Pennsylvania last year but doesn’t appear on Pen America’s current list
Almost half of school districts in Florida have had “instances of book bans”, according to Pen America. Across the US, school book removals were up by one third in the past year, it said.
Florida’s Department of Education has said it “does not ban books”, while governor Ron DeSantis has called the idea of banning a “hoax”. He has said he wants an education system that is “free from sexualization and harmful materials that are not age appropriate”.
He said earlier this year: “Exposing the ‘book ban’ hoax is important because it reveals that some are attempting to use our schools for indoctrination.
“In Florida, pornographic and inappropriate materials that have been snuck into our classrooms and libraries to sexualize our students violate our state education standards.”
In March, Florida’s Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr tweeted: “Students should be spending their time in school learning core academic subjects, not being force-fed radical gender and sexual ideology.”
School districts that have removed books have cited recent state laws including one dubbed the Don’t Say Gay bill, which says children should not be taught about sexual orientation or gender identity.
Last year, another law was introduced saying school books should be age-appropriate, free from pornography and “suited to student needs”. They must be approved by a specialist who has had training by the Department of Education, with parents given more power to request a removal.
Another law introduced in 2022 does not allow the “far-left woke agenda” to “take over our schools and workplaces” when teaching issues related to race, Mr DeSantis said.