Publisher Penguin Random House and writer’s organisation PEN America have taken legal action against a school district in Florida due to its book bans.

The lawsuit against Escambia County School District challenges the removal of books from school libraries, accusing them of violating rights to free speech and equal protection under the law.  

In recent years, right-winged lawmakers from various US states, including Florida, Texas and Utah, have banned books that address LGBTQ+ and race issues.

According to PEN America, the first half of the 2022-2023 school year had “1,477 instances of individual books banned, affecting 874 unique titles.” 

The lawsuit says the Escambia County School District and School Board violated the First Amendment rights of the students, authors, and publishers by removing books “based on ideological objections to their contents or disagreement with their messages or themes.”

Per the lawsuit, the district also violated the Equal Protection Clause of the constitution “because the books being singled out for possible removal are disproportionately books by non-white and/or LGBTQ+ authors, or which address topics related to race or LGBTQ+ identity.”

Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America 

In a statement, Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America said: “Children in a democracy must not be taught that books are dangerous. The freedom to read is guaranteed by the constitution.

“In Escambia County, state censors are spiriting books off shelves in a deliberate attempt to suppress diverse voices. In a nation built on free speech, this cannot stand. The law demands that the Escambia County School District put removed or restricted books back on library shelves where they belong.”


Sophie Olejnik

Sophie Olejnik

Sophie is a trainee journalist at The University of Sheffield who specialises in feature writing. She has a keen passion for books and would love to work in the publishing industry in the future. She’s particularly passionate about how our ever-changing planet is represented in the books we read.

Favourite genres: Thrillers and Contemporary Fiction.