Board of Ed. v. Pico (1982)
Date of Action: August 2021
Region: North America
Location: Long Island
Confronting Bodies: Pico, Island Trees School District
Description of Artwork: In Board of Ed. v. Pico, the majority opinion was that school libraries have "special characteristics" as providers of free access to information, and should be especially vigilant of upholding students’ First Amendment rights.
The Incident: Island Trees School District in Long Island banned a number of books, including Go Ask Alice, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five and Richard Wright’s Black Boy, from its libraries, calling them “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic and just plain filthy.” Steven Pico and Robert Morrow, the superintendent, fought the removal of this ban. Ultimately, the Supreme Court found that for a school library to “prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion” is a violation of students’ First Amendment Rights.
Results of Incident: The Supreme Court ruled in Pico that school libraries must be safe spaces for free inquiry, then books are inherently essential to a thorough education. Yet, books are still disappearing from library shelves inside and outside schools, and this is an ongoing battle that upholders of free speech and expression, continue to fight.