FACT CHECK: Did A Florida School Ban Amanda Gorman’s Poem?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

Media outlets, such as the Associated Press and The Guardian, have claimed that a Florida school banned poet Amanda Gorman’s poem.

Verdict: False

The poem was moved to the middle grades area of the school’s media center, not banned from the school entirely. Miami-Dade County Public Schools said in an email to parents that the poem remains accessible to all students, though a spokesperson told The Washington Post that the book is restricted to elementary school students that can read at a middle school level.

Fact Check: 

Bob Graham Education Center, a K-8 school in Miami Lakes, Florida, moved Gorman’s poem, “The Hill We Climb,” from the elementary school section to the middle grades section in response to a parent complaint, according to Local 10. Media outlets, such as The Associated Press, Rolling Stone and The Guardian, published headlines claiming the book was banned.

“Amanda Gorman ‘gutted’ after Florida school bans Biden inauguration poem,” reads The Guardian’s headline. (RELATED: Did Florida Ban ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ From Its Schools?)

This, however, is false as the book was never removed nor banned from the school. The book, along with several others, was restricted from elementary school students following a complaint from Daily Salinas, a parent, according to the Miami Herald. The Washington Post reported that a school materials review committee deemed the book acceptable to middle school students.

Florida Freedom to Read Project, which first published the complaints, shared the minutes from the April meeting, which showed that the committee deemed the poem of “historical significance” and “determined to be of value to middle school students.”

“Below are the minutes from the review committee meeting that was held on 4/5/23. Aside from THE HILL WE CLIMB, all the books were written w/K-5 readers in mind. Due to “age appropriate” language in HB7, this committee “erred on the side of caution” & restricted them to 6-8,” reads the tweet.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools pushed back against reporting that the book was banned, writing in a tweet that it was “never banned or removed from one of our schools.”

“In order to ensure accurate information, @MDCPS is compelled to clarify that the book titled ‘The Hill We Climb’ by @TheAmandaGorman was never banned or removed from one of our schools. The book is available in the media center as part of the middle grades collection,” the school district tweeted.

The school district also addressed the media reporting around the move in an email to parents, according to Local 10. The district wrote that the “text was reviewed and placed in the middle grades area of our school media center.”

“However, to be clear, even though The Hill We Climb is located in the middle grades area of our media center, it remains accessible to all students,” the school district wrote in an email to parents.

Ana Rhoades, a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, told The Washington Post that elementary school students face certain restrictions in accessing the book. Rhoades said that an elementary school student must request the book from a media specialist and prove they read at a middle school level, according to The Washington Post.

Gorman said on Twitter that a “school book ban is any action taken against a book that leaves access to a book restricted or diminished.” (RELATED: Does This Photo Show A List Of Banned Books In Florida Schools?)

A school book ban is any action taken against a book that leaves access to a book restricted or diminished. This decision of moving my book from its original place, taken after one parent complained, diminishes the access elementary schoolers would have previously had to my poem. Glad @FLFreedomRead and I could help clarify that for @MDCPS to ensure accurate information,” Gorman tweeted. 

Rhoades said in an email to Check Your Fact that students could access “any book in the library so long as the book is age appropriate and of the appropriate reading level for that student.”

“[A]ny student at Bob Graham K-8 Education Center can have access to any book in the library so long as the book is age appropriate and of the appropriate reading level for that student. This would apply to all books the library,” Rhoades said.

The Associated Press later edited their headline to read,”Amanda Gorman’s poem for Biden’s inauguration barred for younger children by Florida school.” It did not issue an update indicating that the headline had been changed.

Check Your Fact reached out to The Associated Press and The Guardian for comment and will update this article if responses are provided.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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