Updated March 1, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Missouri School District Wentzville on behalf of two minor students over the removal of books from school libraries, reported CNN. After receiving backlash from taking a Toni Morrison novel off the shelves, the board voted to bring the book back, reported NBC News.
The Wentzville school board had reportedly voted to permanently remove eight books including The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell. One school board member, Sandy Garber, had defended her vote against The Bluest Eye by claiming she was protecting children from obscenities such as pedophilia, incest and rape, reported CNN.
According to the American Library Association, Morrison’s novel was in the top ten list of most banned books in 2020.
After receiving criticisms for taking Morrison’s novel off the shelves of high school libraries, the school district reversed its decision, reported NBC. The board’s vice president, Daniel Brice, said there should be tightened policies regarding some books and that parents had the right to request some books being unavailable to their kids.
“This is welcome news, but the fact remains that six books are still banned. And Wentzville’s policies still make it easy for any community member to force any book from the shelves even when they shamelessly target books by and about communities of color, LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups,” said Anthony Rothert, director of integrated advocacy of ACLU of Missouri.
American Library Association executive director Tracie Hall pushed back against the banning and told CNN that the removal of books can influence a child’s development in relation to real world challenges.
“The banned books engage their readers with a diversity of ideas and minority 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 because of the ideological disagreement members of the District’s school board and certain vocal community members have with the ideas and viewpoints that the books express.”
The head of integrated advocacy at the ACLU, Tony Rothert, furthered the argument of the complaint insisting the new school district policies have made it easy for any angry parent to force a book to be pulled from the shelves. “This plays right into the hands of those with an agenda to rid our public schools of viewpoints belonging to anyone other than straight, white men,” said Rothert in a statement via CNN.
This pushback on books (especially critical race theory) surely misinterprets why some people want these books in schools. Obviously, a second grader shouldn’t be reading Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon. However, the book should still be accessible when that student is of age to understand what they’re reading.