ACLU sues Independence School District over library policy on certain book removals

Cats v. Robots Volume 1: This Is War
Cats v. Robots Volume 1: This Is War(KCTV5)
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 2:15 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The ACLU of Missouri has filed a lawsuit against the Independence School District over its library policy.

At issue is a book being automatically removed due to a complaint before being reviewed or voted on.

The lawsuit comes after public debate and the permanent removal of Cats vs. Robots Volume 1: This is War.

The book was pulled following a parent’s complaint. Eventually, the board voted 6-1 to keep the book removed from shelves.

Cats vs. Robots features a non-binary character on three pages of the 307-page book.

KCTV5 previously spoke with the authors Margaret Stohl and Lewis Peterson, who said they are sad and shocked their book is the source of controversy.

“It’s a funny, light-hearted book. It happens to feature a character that has an identity which is non-binary. There’s no advocating of one side or the other. It’s merely the existence of a character,” said Lewis Peterson.

“We feel that no kid has an inappropriate identity, and kids need to see themselves on the shelves,” said Margaret Stohl.

“Equity in our education system is further eroded when the government sets policies that require challenged books to automatically be pulled from shelves without notice or an opportunity to appeal the final decision, denying students their First Amendment and Due Process rights,” said Gillian Wilcox, Deputy Director for Litigation with the ACLU of Missouri.

The Independence, Missouri School District sent KCTV5 a response promising to fight the lawsuit.

The District stands behind its policy, which is thoughtful, well-considered, and calculated to balance and protect the rights of all students and their parents.  The policy is also not unique to the Independence School District.  Nearly identical policies are used by numerous public school districts throughout the state, including at least one that withstood a similar legal challenge by the ACLU.  The District will vigorously defend against this lawsuit.  It is unfortunate that the District will be required to expend taxpayer funds to defend against the ACLU’s latest unfounded complaint.”