‘Romeo and Juliet’ banned from schools in Hillsborough, Florida

why are you romeo

Certainly not in Hillsborough County, Fla., where the local school board announced on Tuesday that students will no longer be allowed to read many Shakespearean plays in full because of sexual content.

The decision is consistent with the state’s Parental Rights in Education Act of 2022, the board said.

The law, recently signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, bans any discussion of a sexual nature in the classroom unless it relates to a standard, such as health classes.

“It was also done with the law in mind,” said school district spokeswoman Tanya Arja said the Tampa Bay Times.

The Post has reached out to the school district for comment.

The district said a teacher who fails to comply with the new guidelines could face a parental complaint or disciplinary action at their school.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Dane in "Romeo + Juliet."
Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in 1996’s Romeo + Juliet. Reportedly, the film’s emphasis on the story’s sexual content violates new Florida educational standards.
©20thCentFox/courtesy Everett Collection

Previously, district English classes required students to read at least two novels or plays during the school year.

Now the students read a novel and excerpts from five to seven different books or plays.

“We need to ensure that our students have enough material throughout the year so that they are prepared for their exams,” Arja continued, adding that by keeping excerpts the school can avoid racist or sexual content.

In addition to Romeo and Juliet, Hillsborough has decided to censor portions of Macbeth and Hamlet.

According to the district, none of the bard’s plays have been banned outright, and should a student wish to read the play in full, there are specific ways to obtain a copy of the 17th-century classics.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
According to the Hillsborough School District, the decision is consistent with the Parental Rights in Education Act of 2022, which just got signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
SERGIO FLORES/AFP via Getty Images

Several school board members and teachers reported that they were unaware of the changes until recently.

“I am extremely disappointed that the majority of our legislatures and the governor-appointed Department of Education fail to honor ‘parents’ rights’ and enforce education laws/rules without thoughtful community feedback,” said board member Jessica Vaughn in a Facebook post.

“Without much guidance on how to implement these rules/laws, without affecting student performance, without much feedback from staff, and without almost no clarity on the penalties associated with these new laws and rules,” she said.

Vaughn also noted that the board was similarly surprised by the Florida Department of Energy’s decision to stop offering Advance Placement Psychology courses after the college board refused to omit material on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Next to "Romeo and Juliet," Hillsborough decided to censor parts of it "Macbeth" And "Hamlet."
In addition to Romeo and Juliet, the Hillsborough School District in Florida has decided to censor portions of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Hamlet.
Shop big/Getty Images

“Honestly, one feels that a lot of this is intentional, to create as much chaos as possible in public education so that the collapse of public education happens quickly and the agenda of privatizing education can move forward with fewer obstacles,” he said vaughn .

A teacher in the district called the change “absurd”.

“I think the rest of the nation — no, the world is laughing at us,” said Joseph Cool, a high school reading teacher said a reporter. “It’s just absurd to take Shakespeare out altogether because the relationship between Romeo and Juliet is somehow designed to exploit minors.”

“Shakespeare has a certain salaciousness,” Cool continued. “Because that was why tickets were selling in his time.”

William Shakespeare
“There’s something salacious in Shakespeare,” said Joseph Cool, a teacher at Gaither High School. “Because that was why tickets were selling in his time.”
Universal History Archive/Getty Images

According to the educator, teaching “Macbeth” to his tenth graders “instilled a sense of connection between things that happened in the past and things that aren’t necessarily in the past.”

“The choices we make, power struggles, megalomania. “It’s so rich in content and things to discuss, academic and scholarly discussions,” Cool said, adding that reading excerpts of the play would detract from the experience.

Caroline Bleakley

Caroline Bleakley is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Caroline Bleakley joined USTimeToday in 2022 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with Caroline Bleakley by emailing carolinebleakley@ustimetoday.com.

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