Amanda Gorman says banning books 'encroaches on our freedom' after poem restricted in school

Amanda Gorman, who read her poem "The Hill We Climb" at the 2021 presidential inauguration, said one parent's complaint about a book shouldn't result in it being inaccessible to others.

Gorman told "CBS Mornings" in her first interview since "The Hill We Climb" was blocked from younger students at a Florida school that banning books is "creating a bookshelf that doesn’t represent the diverse facets of America."

The poem, which was made into a book, and three other books were moved to the middle-school section of the library at Bob Graham Education Center, a public school in Miami-Dade County, after a parent complained "The Hill We Climb" was inappropriate for students.

"I'm fine with those parents not liking my poetry, that's completely in your right," Gorman told CBS News in an interview that aired Wednesday. "But when we get to a situation where that one person's dislike of my work leads to everyone else not having access to that, that is a huge issue, I think, because it encroaches on our freedom to really absorb and love and enjoy literature from where we are."

Gorman, 25, was the first person named as National Youth Poet Laureate.

School restricted access to poem last month

The Florida school opted to move "The Hill We Climb," and three other books – "The ABCs of Black History," “Cuban Kids” and “Love to Langston" – to a section of its media center for students in middle school grades, officials said in May.

"No literature (books or poem) has been banned or removed," the district said in a statement at the time.

Gorman pushed back on that characterization in the interview, arguing that it's appropriate to call the district's actions a "ban."

"There's a huge loophole that exists where we expect if a book isn't burned behind the school and thrown away, that's not a ban," she said.

READ THE POEM: Amanda Gorman’s 'The Hill We Climb' is under attack at Florida school. Reread it in full here.

"When I wrote 'The Hill We Climb,' it was so important for me that young people would see themselves represented in a significant moment in our democratic history, and that the reality of that, in that moment, would be erased for young people who deserve to see themselves at a place and station like that, that was just really disappointing," she said.

Gorman: Targeted books are about race, LGBTQ community

The actions by the Florida school came amid a wave of so-called "book bans" across the country, as conservative-led states have enacted laws making it easier for parents and others to challenge books with content they don't think is appropriate for kids.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a presidential hopeful, has touted measures he has passed that led to an increase in book bans and restrictions. Many of those books depict LGBTQ characters or storylines about same-sex relationships, or explore racial themes. Proponents of the legislation say parents should have a say in the kinds of content their children can access in school, and worry about sexual or violent themes.

Gorman said book bans often fall into two categories: race and LGBTQ issues.

"I have to think about what messaging that sends to young readers. It's as if you're saying, 'You are inappropriate if you're African American. You are inappropriate if you are gay. You are inappropriate if you are an immigrant,'" Gorman said.

She said parents do have the right to have a say in what their children read, but that "all it takes is one person and one quickly written complaint to render that book inaccessible for everyone else in that community."

The parent who prompted restrictions in access to "The Hill We Climb" later admitted that she had only read part of it.

Since Gorman's book was restricted, students at her former California school have held an event to celebrate her by reading their own poetry; Miami-Dade seniors heard parts of the poem read at their graduation ceremonies; and the Miami-Dade mayor invited her to recite her poem.

Contributing: Kayla Jimenez and John Bacon, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Amanda Gorman says school book bans target stories of race, LGBT folks