Former Osceola County School Librarians leave ‘politicized’ job behind, open Kissimmee bookstore

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — It’s been a little more than a year since controversial new laws out of Tallahassee took effect and forced Central Florida school districts to take a closer look at the books in their schools.

HB1467 took effect in July of 2022 and HB 1069 was implemented just one year later.

Together the bills limited teachings on sexual orientation and gender identity. They also ban any book that depicts sexual conduct.

The governor signed the laws as part of a wave of legislation including the Parental Rights in Education Act and the ‘Stop WOKE act’.

As those laws were being written they were met with fierce opposition, and once signed they forced local school districts to make a number of policy changes.


Those changes included mandating school librarians to undergo new trainings to comply with the laws. Media specialist could face jailtime if pornographic material was found in their collections.

Now, some of the professionals trusted to decide what can and can’t be on school shelves are pursuing a different path.

In Osceola County, two former media specialist are doing that through a book store that opened this weekend.

Tania Galiñanes and Erin Decker spent part of Monday afternoon rearranging book shelves and placing orders for their Kissimmee book store White Rose Books and More.

The duo said the recent laws pushed them out of their former jobs as media specialist.

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Galiñanes said that was a job she thought she would have through retirement.

“I was making sure our kids had books in their hands they could see themselves in books and that teachers were able to bring their students in. It was the most amazing job,” said Galiñanes.

But Galiñanes and Decker feel the laws changed and politicized their everyday duties.

“It’s just a lot. When people are accusing you of being a groomer. Or a pedophile or that you’re pushing porn on other kids. That takes a toll on your mental health especially when it’s not true,” said Galiñanes.

According to Osceola County Schools, 8 library media specialist have left the district since HB 1069 and HB1467 were implemented. The district currently has 48 media specialist and is hiring for the role.

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“It used to be that you could not find a job as a library media specialist. And people would retire from these jobs,” said Galiñanes, “I know people who have left without having a Plan-B. They just can’t do it, they’re done.”

Decker said about 9 months ago she and Galiñanes started to think about alternatives and finally had the ‘aha moment’ to open a bookstore.

White Rose Books And More opened this weekend and will have a grand opening in November.

A big goal is making the shop a safe place to access all kinds of titles.

It includes a shelf for Spanish speakers meant to cater to Kissimmee’s prominent Hispanic population.

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Another shelf is dedicated to books banned across the state, and in Central Florida.

“We want anybody to be able to gather here find books that they can see themselves in,” said Decker.

Channel 9 has asked all Central Florida School Districts to provide the number of media specialist who have left their jobs since the first of these laws were implemented.

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Volusia County tells us 11 of their media specialists have left since July of 2022.

They currently have 68 media specialist district wide, we’re still waiting on the numbers from other counties.

Channel 9 also reached out to the governor’s office for comment but has not heard back yet.

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