As public schools in Florida’s Broward County prepared to reopen with virtual classes in mid-August, the school district warned employees not to share their COVID-19 status in the workplace or on social media.
Issued by the district’s safety chief, the order rankled many educators, but few voiced their objections as loudly and swiftly as Florida Senator Lauren Book. The Plantation Democrat, who is running for reelection in 2022, condemned the “see no evil, hear no evil’’ approach to virus management as “misguided and dangerous.” She demanded the directive be rescinded immediately, and it was.
Silence will never again be an option for Book, one of the nation’s 42 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse who, a day before her 18th birthday, publicly shared the dark secret she had kept from her family for six years. Since then, she has become a powerful and persuasive voice for preventing sexual abuse through education and awareness—an advocacy that formally began in 2007, when she and her father established Lauren’s Kids during her senior year in the University of Miami’s School of Education and Human Development.
“So much of who I am and what I am came from my professors,” said Book, now 35 and the happily married mother of three-year-old twins. “They helped me heal in different ways that I wasn’t in touch with through traditional counseling for trauma. They taught me that I could give kids things that I didn’t have by creating a safe place in a classroom.”