A recent incident in Escambia County, Florida has once again highlighted the challenges faced by school librarians, as they grapple with censorship demands from certain individuals. This time, an elementary school book called “That’s Betty! The Story of Betty White” has stirred up a storm of controversy. Let’s dive into the details and explore the implications of this incident.
Book Overview: A Whimsical Tale of Betty White’s Life
“That’s Betty! The Story of Betty White” by Gregory Bonsignore, with illustrations by Jennifer M. Potter, is an endearing fictionalized biography of the legendary actress and icon, Betty White. The story revolves around a young boy’s desire to write a report about an important woman in history. To his surprise, Betty White herself appears in disguise to assist him with his research. The book is not just a charming tale; it also promotes the value of libraries and research.
Controversy and the “Don’t Say Gay” Law in Florida
In accordance with Florida law, a complaint from a would-be censor means that the book must be temporarily removed from all school libraries in the district pending a review. The complaint alleges that the book violates Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, claiming that it indoctrinates children with the so-called “Gay Agenda.” The complainant points to two references made by the narrator to his dads, which they believe is inappropriate content for young readers.
The Charming Nature of “That’s Betty!”
It is essential to note that “That’s Betty! The Story of Betty White” is a charming and innocent book that celebrates the admirable aspects of Betty White’s life. In no way does it promote any harmful or inappropriate agenda. Unfortunately, some individuals often overlook the heartwarming qualities of such books, choosing instead to focus on their own biases.
The Complainant and Their Questionable Motivations
The complainant, Vicki Baggett, is a high school English teacher in Florida and a volunteer book censor. Her allegations against the book have led to its removal from school libraries. However, it is worth noting that Baggett has been previously criticized for her racial and homophobic remarks within the classroom. This begs the question of whether her motivations are rooted in genuine concern for students or something more problematic.
Embracing Diverse Perspectives
Books like “That’s Betty! The Story of Betty White” have the power to introduce children to diverse characters and help them understand the world around them. It’s essential to create an inclusive environment where children can explore different perspectives without fear of censorship. After all, fostering empathy and understanding is crucial for the growth of future generations.
Embracing Freedom to Read
Instances like these remind us of the importance of standing up for the freedom to read. Just like the beloved Betty White, who has brought joy to countless lives, it is our responsibility to advocate for the dissemination of knowledge and the celebration of diverse stories. Let’s support authors like Gregory Bonsignore, who strive to inspire young readers with the remarkable achievements of individuals like Betty White.
To learn more about Ratingperson’s commitment to promoting diverse stories and fostering a love for reading, visit Ratingperson.
- Florida Freedom To Read Project on Twitter
- That’s Betty! The Story of Betty White (a small cut of sales go to Wonkette)
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