Today, the Northern Justice Project, LLC, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alaska filed a lawsuit against the Mat-Su Borough School District (MSBSD) for the removal of 56 books from school libraries that contained ideas that the Board desired to suppress.
The suit was filed on behalf of eight plaintiffs, including six MSBSD parents on behalf of their minor children and two MSBSD students over the age of 18 who claim that the book removal violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution to free speech, press, and political expression.
On April 21, 2023, MSBSD removed 56 books from all of its school libraries. The removed books include classics and award winners, including Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye,” Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five,” and Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner.” The removed books also include books with protagonists of color or LGBTQ+ protagonists and non-fiction reference materials discussing adolescent health and development. A full list of the removed books can be found here.
Plaintiffs in this case are asking the court to reinstate the 56 removed books to school libraries across MSBSD, and to rule that this kind of book banning is unconstitutional.
Statement from Savannah Fletcher, Attorney for Northern Justice Project:
“All students have a constitutional right to inquire, to study, and to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their world. As the Supreme Court ruled over 40 years ago, ‘the school library is the principal locus of that freedom.’ Mat-Su School District needs to respect that right.”
Statement from Ruth Botstein, Legal Director for the ACLU of Alaska:
“The District acted in a way that put its personal views and prejudices ahead of the fundamental rights afforded to Alaskan students. Removing classic reads and award-winning literature from bookshelves violates students’ rights to receive ideas and information. This is a foundational component of the rights of young Alaskans to exercise freedom of speech, press, and political expression. Book banning in any public setting is unacceptable.”
Statement from Dawn Adams, plaintiff:
"As a parent to a biracial child, my child needs to be represented in books. I believe that book banning only further promotes intolerance, suppression of ideas or information, and creates seclusion making at-risk youth all the more at-risk. I am joining this lawsuit to send the School District the message: enough is enough.”