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PolitiFact FL: Amanda Gorman poem moved in one library, not banned in Miami-Dade County

A woman in yellow gestures behind a microphone.
Patrick Semansky
AP Pool
FILE - American poet Amanda Gorman recites a poem during the Inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. The poem written for Biden’s inauguration has been placed on a restricted list for elementary-aged students at a school in South Florida after a complaint by one parent. In a Facebook post on Tuesday, May 23, 2023, Gorman vowed to fight back.

The poem "The Hill We Cimb," written by Amanda Gorman and read at President Joe Biden’s inauguration in 2021, was challenged in March by a parent at a South Florida school, resulting in the school library reshelving the poem to a section for middle school students.

The move sparked outrage on social media, including from Gorman, and arguments over what constitutes a book ban.

"Miami-Dade County has banned the poem read by Amanda Gorman during President Biden’s inauguration from elementary schools following the objection of a single parent," read text under the headline "Florida facism" on a May 26 Instagram post.

The Instagram post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

The post is incorrect on two points.

First, Miami-Dade County made no decision about Gorman’s poem in elementary schools. A single kindergarten-through-eighth grade school in Miami-Dade County’s Miami Lakes, the 1,469-pupil Bob Graham Education Center, made the move. It wasn’t a districtwide decision, affecting all 335,929 students enrolled there in 2022-23.

Second, the book was not banned, the district said in a May 23 tweet. Gorman’s poem "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."

In March, Daily Salinas, a parent of two students at the school, challenged Gorman’s poem, along with three other books she said had references to critical race theory, hate messages and indoctrination, the Miami Herald reported. A review committee responded by reshelving Gorman’s poem in the library’s middle-school section.

According to NBC 6 / WTVJ, a PolitiFact partner in South Florida, the school sent a letter home to parents about the move and resulting media coverage. It said although the poem was moved, "it remains accessible to all students."

The Washington Post reported May 24 that a younger student would have to request the poem from a media specialist at the school library and prove that they read at the fifth-grade level.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools did not return a request for comment for this story, nor did Yecenia Martinez, Bob Graham Education Center’s principal.

Gorman argued on Twitter that the move still creates "these hurdles for a young reader just to access a poem in history written for them."

The poem urges America to reckon with its past, put its differences aside and "leave behind a country better than the one we were left." By working together, the poem suggests, Americans can "forge our union with purpose."

Our ruling

An Instagram post claimed that Miami-Dade County banned Gorman’s poem from elementary schools.

There was no countywide effort to remove this poem. A single school, after a parent complained, decided to move the poem to its library’s middle-school section. Some younger students can still access the poem if they can show they read at a fifth grade level; access for others is restricted.

The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.

Our Sources

Jeff Cercone is a staff writer for PolitiFact.
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