Cody school district recently banned Tanya Stone’s A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl despite a previous vote to retain it, 7 – 2, by the official KEC committee convened to review the YA book. CBLDF has joined with other freedom of expression groups to cosign the Kids’ Right to Read Project letter asking the school board to reconsider its decision.
The letter explains not only how their decision disregarded the recommendation vote, but also the policies set in place to prevent a group from making uninformed decisions for the district on a whole. The letter then sets to highlight First Amendment jurisprudence in the context of similar cases.
The Supreme Court has established that public school officials’ discretion regarding the removal of library books is particularly limited to ensure the protection of students’ First Amendment right to access information because “students must always remain free to inquire, to study, and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding” and “the school library is the principal locus of such freedom.” Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853, 868-69 (1982)(plurality opinion). In the same case, the Court also cautioned, “[l]ocal school boards may not remove books from library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to ‘prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.’” Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853, 872 (1982)(plurality opinion). Thus, the removal of books from public school libraries to suppress ideas is a violation of the First Amendment.
The Kids’ Rights to Read Project is a division of the National Coalition Against Censorship’s Youth Free Expression Program that was co-founded with American Booksellers for Free Expression and is funded in part by Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the Association of American Publishers.