ACLU sues Missouri sues school district for removing 8 books from libraries




CNN

Two students have sued a Missouri school district over its decision to remove eight books from school libraries, arguing that the novels were banned because they deal with issues related to race, gender and sexual identity.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri (ACLU) against the Wentzville School District on behalf of underage students not named in the complaint.

“Banned books engage their readers with a diversity of minority ideas and viewpoints, including with respect to race, gender, and sexual identity,” the ACLU argues in the class action lawsuit.

“The district banned the books from school libraries due to the ideological disagreement of members of the district school board and some members of the vocal community with the ideas and viewpoints expressed by the books.”

Brynne Cramer, a school district spokeswoman, said CNN officials are aware of the lawsuit and said the district would not comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, Tony Rothert, who leads integrated advocacy at the ACLU of Missouri, told CNN on Thursday that the school district was “rushing to ban the books.”

“This school district has adopted policies that allow any disgruntled member of the community to force any book from the shelves for any reason,” Rothert said in a statement. “This plays directly into the hands of those who aim to rid our public schools of the views of anyone other than straight, white males.”

The Wentzville School Board voted 4 to 3 last month to permanently remove “The Bluest Eye” by the late acclaimed novelist Toni Morrison from school shelves as well as digital access, according to school board documents. A motion to completely restrict Morrison’s book argued that it contained graphic content such as pedophilia, incest and rape, according to the lawsuit.

Wentzville School Board member Sandy Garber said she didn’t view her vote against “The Bluest Eye” as a book ban but as protection for children from obscenity, according to the St. Louis Post newspaper. dispatch.

“By all means, go buy the book for your kid,” she said at the board meeting. “I wouldn’t want this book in school for anyone else to see.”

The school district, located in a suburb of St. Louis, also removed seven other critically acclaimed books from circulation from school libraries, according to the complaint.

Morrison’s novel, which tells the story of a black girl who is obsessed with white beauty standards and wishes she had blue eyes, was one of the 10 most banned books in the United States in 2020, according to the ‘American Library Association.

In 1993, Morrison became the first black woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, America’s highest honor for a civilian. She passed away in 2019.

According to the lawsuit, the other books removed from school district libraries are: “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Paperback,” by Alison Bechdel; “Not All Boys Are Blue” by George M. Johnson; “Heavy: An American Memoir,” by Kiese Laymon; Lawn Boy, by Jonathan Evison; “Gabi, a girl in pieces”, by Isabel Quintero; “Modern Romance”, by Aziz Ansari; and “Invisible Girl”, by Lisa Jewell.

American Library Association executive director Tracie Hall has warned against banning books because it affects child development compared to real-world challenges.

“It’s so important to give young people access to a free range of reading materials to help them solve problems before they run into the problem in real life,” Hall said.

Hall’s opinions come after a series of book bans across the county.


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