The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) contacted Wilson County Schools Board in Lebanon, Tennessee, in regards to the School Board’s decision to remove Tricks by Ellen Hopkins and Lev A.C. Rosen’s Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) despite the book review committee’s recommendations to retain the books.
NCAC expressed concern that the board may have removed the titles due to disagreement with the views expressed in the materials. During the board’s discussion of the book challenge, one board member advocated for removing the book because it contained ideas about sex education that “I disagree with.” The removals potentially conflict with a Supreme Court ruling of Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853, 872 (1982). In 2021, the Court reaffirmed the principle underlying Pico, stating that public schools are responsible for protecting unpopular ideas. Mahanoy Area Sch. Dist. v. B. L., 594 U.S.___,141 S. Ct. 2038, 2046 (2021). Therefore, any decision that suggests viewpoint discrimination raises serious First Amendment concerns.
The school board also has rejected the recommendation of a review committee to retain the books, which prevents students from accessing materials that review experts found valuable. Review committees play an essential role in adjudicating book challenges. Because they strive to be impartial, they ensure that all parties feel that their views are heard and that decisions about educational material are based on educational value and made in an objective, nonpolitical manner.
The NCAC strongly urges Wilson County Schools Board to adopt review policies that support students’ First Amendment rights. The NCAC’s Kids’ Right to Read program has provided school officials with various resources to help respond to book challenges, including material review guidelines and policy best practices.
Please read our full letter to the Wilson County Schools Board:
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