'Ruby Bridges,' Disney Film About School Desegretation and Dolly Parton-Miley Cyrus Duet Join School Ban List

Ruby Bridges
Six-year-old Ruby Bridges being escorted to elementary school by U.S. Marshals in 1960, when New Orleans schools were desegregated.Getty

A Disney film and a duet titled "Rainbowland" by Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus are new entries on list of banned items in public schools.

Joining the ever-growing list of banned items in public schools now come the Disney film "Ruby Bridges," which depicts the 6-year-old Black girl who entered an all-white school in 1960 and a duet titled "Rainbowland" by Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus about embracing the LGBTQ+ communities.

The 1998 Disney movie was recently barred from a St. Petersburg school in Florida after a parent complained that the film might teach kids that white people hate Black people. In Wisconsin, a first-grade class was banned from singing the Parton-Cyrus song because it "could be perceived as controversial," school officials said.

Both banishments occurred in recent days against a backdrop of public school administrators increasingly removing books, films, music and curriculums deemed inappropriate for children and older students, most of them involving issues related to racism, gender and sexuality.

A new study by the American Library Association found that attempts to ban books and impose restrictions at public schools and libraries reached a record high last year, with more than 1,200 challenges, nearly double the number from 2021.

Twenty of those books were written by best-selling author Jodi Picoult, whose "The Storyteller," is about the Holocaust. "We shouldn't have to relive history all over again," Picoult told ABC News Monday, denouncing the prohibition of her works in Florida schools. 

"It's OK for a parent to decide whether or not a book is appropriate for their own child," the author said. "But it's not appropriate for that same parent to make the decision for your child."

During the 2021-2022 school year, more than 1,600 books were banned from school libraries in this country, according to a report from PEN America. The bans were enacted in 138 school districts across 32 states, said the organization devoted to protecting free speech in literature.

Of the banned books, 41% contained LGBTQ+ themes, according to PEN. Forty percent included people of color and 21% dealt with race and racism. Also included in the forbidden list were books dealing with activism, advocacy and civil rights.

In 2019, the beloved "Harry Potter" series was on several banned school lists because of "witchcraft" themes.

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