Students Sue Missouri School District Over Banned Books

(WENTZVILLE, Mo.) — Two students have sued a suburban St. Louis school district over its decision to remove several books from school libraries.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri sued the Wentzville School District on Tuesday on behalf of the students, who aren’t named in the lawsuit because they are minors, KWMU-FM reported.

The district’s school board voted last month to remove The Bluest EyeToni Morrison was asked to remove the book from schools’ libraries, due to its explicit description of violence, incest, and sex. Other books were also temporarily removed by the board while they were being reviewed.
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A Wentzville school district spokeswoman said in an email Thursday that the district was aware of the lawsuit but wouldn’t comment on it.

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According to the class action lawsuit, books had been removed from their shelves because of viewpoints expressed by authors or protagonists who are LGBTQ or people of color.

As school districts around the country feel pressured to get rid of books, this lawsuit was filed.

Tony Rothert is director of advocacy at ACLU of Missouri. He said that this lawsuit was the first of its type filed by the ACLU of Missouri during the spike in book-removals.

“This just isn’t any old book banning, as happens from time to time, where school districts disagree with the ideology of a book,” Rothert said. “Here Wentzville has targeted and removed books that are from the perspective and viewpoint of racial or sexual minorities.”

The Wentzville school district’s policy is to remove the books from circulation while they are being reviewed, which Rothert said makes it too easy for anyone in the district to get a book removed just by filing a complaint.

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In 2000, a federal judge struck down a law in Wichita Falls, Texas, after the ACLU of Texas filed a lawsuit challenging the removal of two books from the city’s public library. These books were removed by the ACLU of Texas. Heather has two mommiesAnd Daddy’s RoommateIt depicts the daily lives of lesbians and gay people.

The judge ruled the city’s law allowing signers of petitions to remove “objectionable” books was unconstitutional.


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