Florida teacher starts nonprofit to give away banned books to students

Educator Adam Tritt started a nonprofit to buy the controversial books and distribute them to students

Fox News | By Rebecca Rosenberg | September 7, 2022

Florida public school teacher upset over legislation that has banned certain books from classrooms has launched a nonprofit that offers students the controversial titles for free – including “This Book is Gay” and “Crank.”

Adam Tritt, an AP English teacher at Bayside High School in Palm Bay, started the fundraiser in March, which has turned into the nonprofit Foundation 451.

“If the county has removed it, I will make it available, getting as many as I can into as many hands as possible,” he wrote on his GoFundMe page for the project, which has raised $31,000 out of a goal of $80,000. 

Tritt has distributed the books at festivals, churches and local businesses but plans to have a mobile library he’ll call the “Banned Wagon” to hand out the titles, according to the page.

A side by side of Ron DeSantis and Florida High School teacher Adam Tritt, who is giving away books to students barred from the classroom by a bill the governor signed into law.
A side by side of Ron DeSantis and Florida High School teacher Adam Tritt, who is giving away books to students barred from the classroom by a bill the governor signed into law. (Paul Hennessy via Getty Images/ Twitter)

“The books kids want to read, the books that show the world the way it is and tell them what they need to know, who discover who they are and how they fit in, those books are gone,” he opined on a panel discussion hosted by Space Coast Progressive Alliance.

“I got mad and I decided I’m going to give books away,” he added, highlighting two titles he felt were particularly important for students to access, “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson and “Crank” by Ellen Hopkins. 

Dawson’s book includes passages that teach teens about anal and oral sex and how to use the gay hookup app Grindr. 

The bestselling young adult non-fiction title, described as an LGBTQ manual that includes graphic illustrations, has been blasted as “pornographic” by critics.

“Crank,” slang for crystal meth, is a dark novel about high school junior Kristina Snow, whose life spirals out of control after she becomes addicted to the drug. She ends up getting raped by a drug dealer and having his child.

Craig Smith, who is the executive committee of Foundation 451, told Fox News Digital that the “Banned Wagon” would only make the sensitive titles available to students aged 16 to 18 who show valid ID. Those under 16 must be accompanied by their parents.

Many of the titles were removed under the “Parental Rights in Education” bill which was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in March, and prohibits school teachers from instructing students in grades kindergarten through third on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The legislation has been nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. 

The bill bars the state or other government entities from “infringing upon the fundamental rights of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of a minor child.”

While the legislation does not ban specific books, it bars teachers from discussing certain topics in the classroom. If those topics are in the books, those titles aren’t allowed in the classroom or school library, Smith said. 

“The problem is that the questioned books aren’t being offered to kids,” Smith added. “This is not about protecting young children from perverts. This is happening at a high  school to kids grappling with the issues raised by the books.”

DeSantis didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rebecca Rosenberg is a veteran journalist and book author with a focus on crime and criminal justice. Email tips to rebeca.rosenberg@fox.com and @ReRosenberg.

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