Book bans, bad policy and a good sheriff make the week’s list of highs and lows | Editorial
Here are some highlights and lowlights from the week.
A Clockwork Orange, The Bluest Eye and The Awakening are three of several books conservative groups have tried to get removed from Florida public schools as containing pornographic material.
A Clockwork Orange, The Bluest Eye and The Awakening are three of several books conservative groups have tried to get removed from Florida public schools as containing pornographic material. [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Feb. 4

The kids are all right. Good for the juniors and seniors in the Palm Harbor University High School International Baccalaureate program who stood up for their right to read “The Bluest Eye,” the first novel by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. “The majority of our class feels it was a very important book in our education,” said senior Hannah Hipólito, who read it as an assignment last year. She added: “There’s just a lot of fear that a lot of the books we know and love are going to be taken from us.” The Pinellas school district ignored its own policies and banned the book from classrooms and libraries when one parent complained about some of the content. Essentially, the district prioritized the rights of one parent and trampled the rights of other students to read the book in class. Kudos to these teenagers for seeing the awful cascading consequence that so many adults have been missing — that respecting one student’s right not to read a book should not impinge on the right of students who do want to read it.

None of your business. Could Florida’s high school athletes be forced to disclose their menstrual history on a physical education form? Read that question again, and you have to wonder if the adults behind this ludicrous idea have spent a minute around actual teens and their anxieties about their own bodies. The Florida High School Athletic Association, which oversees interscholastic athletic programs across the state, proposes making currently optional questions mandatory, the Palm Beach Post reports. The questions? Athletes would have to answer if they’ve had a menstrual cycle, and if so, when was their first period, their most recent period and “how many periods (the student has) had in the past 12 months.” This is confidential, intensely personal information for teens and their doctors to discuss privately. They should not have to share it with schools or authorities or keep it in a data base. The initial fear was that in the post-Roe era and Florida’s 15-week abortion ban, it could be a way to access reproductive health data as potential criminal evidence. Now there are worries that it could be used to stigmatize transgender athletes. Both are valid concerns. But, really, why is this anybody’s business at all?

Serving with distinction. Congrats to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who was named the 2022 Sandra S. Hutchens Sheriff of the Year by the Major County Sheriffs of America, an association of law enforcement officials from the 113 largest sheriff’s offices nationwide. No one is ever going to agree with every move a sheriff makes, but Gualtieri is accessible and willing to explain his decisions. When controversy erupts, he’s front and center. He has also taken on some difficult tasks including acting as chair of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission, which was formed by the Florida Legislature in 2018 to improve school safety after the mass shooting at the school for which it is named. Pinellas residents have been well served by Gualtieri since Gov. Rick Scott appointed him sheriff in 2011.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Conan Gallaty. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.