School District Sued for Removing Sexually Explicit Children’s Books
A lawsuit was filed on Wednesday against the Escambia County School District in Florida by a book publisher, authors, and two parents over its decision to remove sexually explicit literature from library shelves. The plaintiffs argue that the district’s book ban violates the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.
PEN America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending free expression, and book publisher Penguin Random House, along with authors and parents, jointly announced the lawsuit. They are demanding that several sexually themed books be returned to the district’s school libraries. In a statement released on Wednesday, PEN America emphasized the importance of providing students with access to books that cover diverse topics and express a range of viewpoints, as it supports the core function of public education in preparing students to be engaged citizens.
The lawsuit accuses the Escambia County School District of intentionally censoring certain ideas and viewpoints. It alleges that officials deliberately banned literature discussing race, racism, and LGBTQ identities, contrary to the recommendations of the district’s review committee. The suit specifically names 10 books that were removed by the school district.
PEN America describes the lawsuit as a first-of-its-kind challenge to unlawful censorship, bringing together authors whose books have been banned, parents and students who are unable to access the books, and a publisher. The organization asserts that the district is allowing an extremist minority to impose its political agenda, substituting it for the judgment of educators and parents. The lawsuit claims that the school district’s actions violate the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause, as it targets books by non-white and/or LGBTQ authors that often address themes or topics related to race or LGBTQ identity.
Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, stressed the importance of not teaching children in a democracy that books are dangerous, asserting that the freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Nossel stated, “In Escambia County, state censors are spiriting books off shelves in a deliberate attempt to suppress diverse voices. In a nation built on free speech, this cannot stand.” She called on the Escambia County School District to comply with the law and return the removed or restricted books to library shelves.
Nihar Malaviya, CEO of Penguin Random House, emphasized that books have the power to positively change lives, and students, in particular, deserve equitable access to a wide range of perspectives. He described book bans like the one enacted by the Escambia County School District as a direct threat to democracy and constitutional rights. Malaviya expressed solidarity with the authors, their books, and the educators, librarians, and parents who champion free expression.
The lawsuit includes well-known adult fiction authors such as David Levithan, George M. Johnson, and Ashley Hope Pérez, as well as children’s book illustrator Sarah Brannen and children’s book author Kyle Lukoff.
The Escambia County School District, which consists of over 30 elementary schools, nine middle schools, and seven high schools, banned several books, including “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “Lucky” by Alice Sebold, “Push” by Sapphire, “When Aidan Became a Brother” by Kyle Lukoff, and “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, citing sexual themes.
The district’s communications coordinator, Cody Strother, declined to comment on the pending litigation when approached by the Washington Post.
2 thoughts on “School District Sued for Removing Sexually Explicit Children’s Books”
These books also teach children things that children should not hear or see . I would like to Sue the writers of those books and sue any pervert parent who wants these books in school . You pervert Parents can read what ever book you want at home . But not to my kids.
Is there some sort of law or rule that requires any entity to spend money to purchase and/or maintain books they don’t think are age-appropriate?