This image shows the plaintiffs' original complaint, partially covered by large red text that reads "FILED."

C.K.–W. v. Wentzville R-IV School District

Status: Closed (Voluntarily Dismissed)
Last Update: February 23, 2023

What's at Stake

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, joined by the National ACLU, filed a lawsuit challenging a school district’s removal of eight critically-acclaimed library books that are by and about people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized groups, as well as its policy requiring automatic removal of every book that any student, parent, or guardian formally objects to, regardless of the basis for or merits of that objection.

The First Amendment protects the right to access information—including students’ right to access information through school library shelves. Indeed, as the Supreme Court held forty years ago, the school library is “the principal locus” of students’ freedom “to inquire, to study and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding.” Bd. of Educ., Island Trees Union Free Sch. Dist. No. 26 v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853, 869 (1982) (plurality). Nevertheless, school-board officials, lawmakers, and others across the country have recently accelerated efforts to ban books—especially those that engage with themes at the intersection of gender, sexuality, and race—from circulation in school and public libraries.

The plaintiffs in this case were two students in Wentzville schools, as well as the state and local subdivisions of the NAACP. The lawsuit alleged that the Wentzville district violated students’ First Amendment right to access information by engaging in viewpoint-based removal of books. In addition, the lawsuit challenged the district’s policies, including those that require the automatic removal of any book once it is challenged by a parent, student, or guardian. The books that the School District banned pursuant to its policies included The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison; Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Paperback, by Alison Bechdel; Heavy: An American Memoir, by Kiese Laymon; Lawn Boy, by Jonathan Evison; All Boys Aren’t Blue, by George M. Johnson; Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, by Isabel Quintero; Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg; and Invisible Girl, by Lisa Jewell. All these books, which have received critical acclaim, engage with themes at the intersection of gender, sexuality, and race.

After the ACLU sued, all but one of the books were returned to school library shelves. The court denied Plaintiffs’ request for preliminary relief on August 5, 2022 and in February 2023, Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case.

Support our on-going litigation and work in the courts Donate now

Learn More About the Issues in This Case