Students sue Wentzville School District over book banning | Education

WENZVILLE – The Wentzville School Board voted 7-0 on Tuesday to keep the challenged book in school libraries, just hours after students filed a lawsuit against the district for removing other books.

On Tuesday, two students filed a federal lawsuit in federal court for violating their civil rights by banning books from school libraries, including “The Blue Eye” by Nobel laureate Tony Morrison.

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri represent two students identified only by the initials CK-W. and D.L. in a class action lawsuit.

Deleting books threatens students’ ability to “learn and interact with a variety of ideas and information, including seeing their own experiences reflected in books and developing a greater understanding of the experiences of others,” the lawsuit, which seeks to get books back to school libraries .

Also Tuesday, Wenzville’s council unanimously approved a recommendation from the district book committee to leave Isabelle Quinter’s “Gabi, the Girl in Pieces.” The book, the story of the maturation of an American teenager of Mexican descent, was challenged by Rene Henke for obscene swearing and portrayal of rape.

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“I thought it brought some value to the teenager, and I think there were good lessons that I am sure could be learned,” said board member Sandy Garber, who was a member of the review committee.

Last month, Garber voted by a majority on the board to nominate Tony Morrison’s “The Blueest Eye” from the district’s high school libraries after another father was called. The board rejected the review committee’s recommendation to keep the book in school libraries.

The ban sparked a reaction from librarians and residents, prompting a fundraising campaign at a local bookstore to distribute 500 copies of the novel.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, alleges the county also removed “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George Johnson, “Fun Home” by Alison Bachdell, “Heavy” by Kiese Laymon, “Invisible Girl” by Lisa Jewell, “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison and Aziz Ansari’s “Modern Romance” from his libraries.

According to the lawsuit, the books are part of a “targeted campaign by the St. Charles County Parents Association and the No Left Turn in Education Division in Missouri to remove certain ideas and perspectives about race and sexuality from school libraries.”

Wentzville County did not respond to requests for information about additional books listed in the lawsuit.

In November, the North Kansas City School District refused and returned the “All Boys Are Not Blue” and “Fun Home” libraries after receiving a warning letter from the Missouri ACLU.

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