Evidence for the “Slippery Slope” to Censorship: The Story from Florida and Collier County

Eric C. Otto


The House sponsor of Florida's 2017 HB 989 Instructional Materials law, which allows any county resident to challenge classroom and school library materials, has argued that those who anticipate his bill’s detrimental impact on science curricula “are trying to read down a slippery slope that doesn’t exist.” Tracing the genesis of HB 989 back to censorship efforts by ideologically-motivated groups in Collier County, Florida, this paper validates not only the concerns of science educators, but of all educators who value "the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction."

Full Text:



“2016 Contract with Collier County, Florida Voters.” 2016. Florida Citizens’ Alliance. https://www.dropbox.com/s/9dd2ludtpwyyhzu/2016-06-17%20-%202016%20Contract%20with%20Collier%20County%20Voters.pdf?dl=0.

“4/19/17 House Session Part 2.” 2017. The Florida Channel video, April 19, 2017. http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/41917-house-session-part-2.

“5/3/17 Senate Session Part 2.” 2017. The Florida Channel video, May 3, 2017. http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/5317-senate-session-part-2.

Act Relating to Instructional Materials, Enrolled. 2017. HB 989, Sess. of 2017. https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=_h0989er.docx&DocumentType=Bill&BillNumber=0989&Session=2017.

Act Relating to Instructional Materials for K-12 Public Education, Original Filed Version. 2017. HB 989. Sess. of 2017. https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=_h0989__.docx&DocumentType=Bill&BillNumber=0989&Session=2017.

Act Relating to Instructional Materials for K-12 Public Education. 2016. HB 899. Sess. of 2016. https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=_h0899__.docx&DocumentType=Bill&BillNumber=0899&Session=2016.

Aronson, Claire. 2014. “Contract Between Parent, School Board Candidates Sparking Debate.” Naples Daily News, August 13, 2014. http://archive.naplesnews.com/news/education/contract-between-parent-school-board-candidates-sparking-debate-ep-551571452-337135901.html.

“August 11, 2015: School Board Meeting.” 2015. Collier County Public Schools video, August 11, 2015. http://www.collierschools.com/Page/7449.

Barack, Lauren. 2015. “FL School District Lets Parents See What Kids Are Reading.” School Library Journal, October 26, 2015. http://www.slj.com/2015/10/schools/fl-school-district-lets-parents-see-what-kids-are-reading.

Batten, Brent. 2015. “Kids Can Read What School Board Doesn’t Want to Hear.” Naples Daily News, June 14, 2015. http://archive.naplesnews.com/columnists/news/brent-batten/brent-batten-kids-can-read-what-school-board-doesnt-want-to-hear-ep-1134186079-337633521.html.

Bolduc, David P. 2017. “Affidavit.” February 9, 2017. http://floridacitizensalliance.com/liberty/init-res/scc-public-res/affidavits/David_Bolduc_Collier.pdf.

Bryant, Jeff. 2017. “School’s Out: Inside Donald Trump’s Extremist Education Agenda.” Salon, January 17, 2017. https://www.salon.com/2017/01/17/inside-donald-trumps-extremest-education-agenda_partner.

Buzzacco-Foerster, Jenna. 2015. “Fight Over Collier Textbook Review Could be Sign of Clashes to Come.” Naples Daily News, January 17, 2015. http://archive.naplesnews.com/news/education/fight-over-collier-textbook-review-could-be-sign-of-clashes-to-come-ep-882371104-335731081.html.

Cash, Mary Ellen. 2017. “Affidavit.” February 2, 2017. http://floridacitizensalliance.com/liberty/init-res/scc-public-res/affidavits/17-02-02%20Cash_Mary_Ellen_Collier.pdf.

Christian Family Coalition. n.d. “About Us!!” Accessed September 27, 2017. http://www.cfcoalition.com/about_us.php.

Clemons, Deirdre. 2017. “Affidavit.” February 9, 2017. http://floridacitizensalliance.com/liberty/init-res/scc-public-res/affidavits/Deirde_Clemons_1_Collier.pdf.

“Collier County School District Under Fire for Summer Reading List.” 2015. Naples Daily News, May 29, 2015. http://archive.naplesnews.com/news/education/collier-county-school-district-under-fire-for-summer-reading-list-ep-1108798089-337935301.html.

Concerned Collier Parents Society. 2015. Facebook, July 1, 2015. https://www.facebook.com/pg/concernedcollierparentssociety.

Conric PR. 2016. “School Board Candidate Louise Penta Calls for End to Common Core.” Naples Daily News, June 13, 2016. http://www.naplesnews.com/story/reader-submitted/education/2016/06/13/school-board-candidate-louise-penta-calls-for-end-tocommon-core/86069652.

“Contract with Collier County, Florida Voters.” 2014. Florida Citizens’ Alliance. http://swflcitizensalliance.com/swflcasite/wp-content/uploads/CONTRACT-WITH-COLLIER-COUNTY-m.pdf.

Cooper, L. Bryan, and A.D. Beman-Cavallaro. 2017. “We’ve Come a Long Way (Baby)! Or Have We? Evolving Intellectual Freedom Issues in the United States and Florida.” Journal of Intellectual Freedom & Privacy 1, no. 4 (Winter): 16-27.

“ELA Materials for Grade 11 Collier County.” 2014. December 12, 2014. http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/925102_4436099d176b44afa3b710b2389abb06.pdf.

Flaugh, Keith. 2016. “Legislature Should Close Loopholes on Textbook Selection Law.” The Naples Daily News, January 1, 2016. http://archive.naplesnews.com/opinion/perspectives/guest-commentary-legislature-should-close-loopholes-on-textbook-selection-law--27f8b2cc-48fc-57d4-e0-363768261.html.

FLCA. 2016. “Legg & O’Toole Block Hearings on Instructional Materials for K-12 Public Education Bills! Sound Off!”

January 29, 2016. http://floridacitizensalliance.com/liberty/legg-otoole-block-hearings-on-bills-sound-off.

Florida Citizens’ Alliance. 2017. Facebook, June 8, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/FloridaCitizensAlliance.

Florida Citizens for Science. 2014. “Proposed Changes to Textbook Selection Process.” February 5, 2014. http://www.flascience.org/wp/?p=2011.

Florida Senate. 2014. “Senator Hays Files Legislation to Strengthen Local Control of Students’ Instructional Materials.” February 5, 2014, http://www.flsenate.gov/Media/PressRelease/Show/1997.

Florida Statute § 847.001(6) (a-c), Obscenity: Definitions. http://www.leg.state.fl.us/STATUTES/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0800-0899/0847/0847.html.

“Group Protests Outside Collier County School Board Meeting.” 2015. NBC 2 News, January 14, 2015. http://www.nbc-2.com/story/27844048/group-protests-outside-collier-county-school-board-meeting#.VLZYCtLF9IE.

Hammerschlag, Annika. 2017. “Teaching of Evolution, Climate Change at Stake in Naples Legislator Donalds’ Bill.” Naples Daily News, March 11, 2017. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2017/03/11/teaching-evolution-climate-change-stake-byron-donalds-bill/98901304.

Haught, Brandon. 2017. “Bills Threaten Science Education.” Daytona Beach News Journal, March 29, 2017. http://www.news-journalonline.com/opinion/20170329/brandon-haught-bills-threaten-science-education.

“June 1, 2017: Special Board Meeting (Instructional Material Objections).” 2017. Collier County Public Schools video, June 1, 2017. http://www.collierschools.com/Page/10655.

“June 9, 2015: School Board Meeting.” 2015. Collier County Public Schools video, June 9, 2015. http://www.collierschools.com/Page/7447.

Knox, Emily J.M. 2017. “Indoctrination and Common Sense Interpretation of Texts: The Tuscon Unified School District Book Banning.” Journal of Intellectual Freedom & Privacy 2, no. 2 (Summer): 11-22.

“Lee County Legislative Delegation Oct. 18 meeting.” 2017. WGCU Public Media video, October 18, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PSHsA2-3Ps&feature=share.

“Legislative Delegation.” 2017. Collier County video, October 19, 2017. http://collier.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=4&clip_id=2308.

Leonor, Mel (@MelLeonor_). 2015. Twitter, June 9, 2015, 8:37 p.m. https://twitter.com/MelLeonor_/status/608478001622339584.

“Naples Rep’s New Law Lets Any Resident Challenge Classroom Materials.” 2017. WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live radio program, July 12, 2017. http://news.wgcu.org/post/naples-reps-new-law-lets-any-resident-challenge-classroom-materials.

“Parents Question Racy Books on Collier County School Shelves.” 2015. Wink News, June 4, 2015. http://www.winknews.com/2015/06/04/parents-question-racy-books-on-collier-county-school-shelves.

Report Card. n.d. “About.” Facebook. Accessed September 27, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/pg/reportcardorg/about.

Salam, Ghazala. 2014. “Florida Lawmakers Ambush Education.”

Huffpost, April 21, 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ghazala-salam/florida-education-lawmakers-ambush-_b_5167856.html.

“SWFLCA Presents Collier School Board Candidates.” 2016. May 24, 2016. https://vimeo.com/168065376.

Weyrauch, Emily. 2017. “Florida’s Textbooks Are a New Battleground in America’s Fight Over Facts.” Time, August 30, 2017. http://time.com/4910125/textbook-law-florida.

Williams, Maren. 2015. “Parent Group Pressures Florida School District to Ban Four Books.” Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, June 10, 2015. http://cbldf.org/2015/06/parent-group-pressures-florida-school-district-to-ban-four-books.

Worth, Katie. 2017. “A New Wave of Bills Takes Aim at Science in the Classroom.” Frontline, May 8, 2017.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/jifp.v2i3-4.6481


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ALA Privacy Policy

© 2019 OIF