Florida school district rejects kid-friendly dictionaries because they might be harmful

Florida's Sarasota County School District has banned school libraries from buying or accepting donations of any book until January 2023 — and this includes dictionaries. When a rotary club in Venice, FL tried to donate hundreds of dictionaries before the 2022-23 school year — a tradition they have followed for more than a decade — their dangersome gift was turned away.

This is thanks to the Gov. DeSantis-signed "[un]education bill" that requires every book that enters a school to be vetted by "media specialists," all of which haven't even been hired yet, according to the Herald-Tribune. Gar Reese, a member of the rotary club — which has donated $4,000 kid-friendly dictionaries to Florida schools over the last 15 years — says if public schools don't want the books, they will either hang on to them until next year, or just give them to private schools instead.

"I would suspect somebody, anyone, could approve a dictionary in less than one minute," Reese said. "Why are we going through all this trouble?"

From Herald-Tribune:

Ahead of the 2022-23 school year, the Sarasota County School District stopped all donations and purchases of books for school libraries while it waits for additional guidance from the Florida Department of Education about how to navigate the effects of new education laws.

The freeze on book acquisitions in the district is all-encompassing and is expected to last until at least January. …

The club partners with an organization called the Dictionary Project, and Reese said he asked a representative from the group if there were any offensive or obscene words in the dictionaries the group donates. He said there were not.

"It's really it's just kind of disappointing," Reese said. "Nobody wants to have an argument over a dictionary." Unless, that is, you're part of DeSantis' MAGA gazpacho police.