Florida school furiously backpedals after outrage over Ruby Bridges documentary ban

Earlier this week, reports indicated an elementary school in St. Petersburg, Florida banned a Disney documentary about civil rights hero Ruby Bridges, the first Black girl in New Orleans to attend an integrated public school, after a parent complained that the scenes of angry mobs shouting at her as she entered the building would teach kids about racism.

Now, according to the Tampa Bay Times, the school is changing course and denying that is what happened.

"[District officials] struggled to explain their initial action — an apparent ban of the film at one school — which would go against long-standing school district policy. Now they are blaming a miscommunication, and some school board members say they are upset at the way district administrators allowed the controversy to play out," reported Jeffrey S. Solochek.

"The policy, reauthorized this year by the school board, states that any challenged materials 'will remain in use' until a review committee issues its recommendation on what to do with the items. That’s not how the district first described what happened at North Shore Elementary in St. Petersburg, where a parent, Emily Conklin, claimed the movie about a girl who integrated a New Orleans school teaches students that white people hate Black people."

Prior emails support the original reporting. An area official, Michael Vigue, emailed Conklin to say that North Shore Elementary “will no longer be using this video to support the K-5 curriculum.” Superintendent Kevin Hendrick now says this email was "incorrect." According to the report, members of the Pinellas school board are frustrated, with one, Caprice Edmond, saying, “One parent shouldn’t have the say-so over what other parents can see for their kids.”

This comes as schools around Florida deal with tough new policies being pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the legislature that make it easier for local activists to order books be censored, ostensibly over issues like "pornography" — though the laws are so vaguely written that some schools are emptying entire library shelves.

Soon things could go even further; GOP lawmakers in Florida have reportedly slipped a provision into a bill expanding the state's infamous "Don't Say Gay" law that could let a person get any material in their county removed from a school for investigation.