After prohibiting a group of mothers from reading sexually explicit content found in their kids’ school library books aloud at school board sessions, a Georgia school district agreed to pay $100,000 in legal fees, Fox News Digital reported.
The Forsyth County School District was sued by a group of mothers known as the Mama Bears for allegedly infringing the parents’ First Amendment rights. One of the group’s members was prohibited from reading the pornographic portions at school board meetings because she was trying to raise awareness about improper books in her child’s school library.
A Mama Bears member named Alison Hair read passages from Jonathan Safran Foer’s book “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” to the school board in February of last year. Hair stated that her son’s middle school library had the book.
As she began to read, “I know that you give someone a blow job by putting your penis…” a member of the school board cut her off.
Hair attempted to read the book aloud at a school board meeting the following month once more.
The board members replied by notifying Hair in writing that she was not permitted to attend subsequent meetings until she conformed with the rules. The school board charged Hair with breaking its rules regarding public engagement in the letter.
In July 2022, The Mama Bears brought legal action against the district.
The mothers’ lawsuit claimed that “people cannot legitimately pronounce judgment on literature that they have not read. Additionally, the First Amendment safeguards parents’ freedom to read aloud from these books as well as the public’s right to hear the content in question when a school’s decision regarding which books young children should read is the topic of political controversy. But the Forsyth County School Board has gone so far as to silence and exclude any parents who simply read aloud from its schools’ library books from its sessions, humiliated by discussion over its decisions.”
The FCS school board’s policy on public engagement was found to be unconstitutional by a federal judge in Nov., in accordance with the Institute for Free Speech, which represented the moms in the case. Additionally, the judge ordered the board to permit Hair access to board meetings.
The Mama Bears prevailed in the court case, and as compensation for suppressing the moms’ speech, the school district agreed to pay the mothers’ legal costs.
“Our civil rights laws include a provision known as “fee shifting,” which gives successful litigants who can demonstrate that government officials have censored them the ability to have their legal bills covered by the wrongdoers, just like they would in the case of any other illegal discrimination. We hope that the members of the school board and their attorneys take note,” Del Kolde, a senior attorney at the Institute for Free Speech, said to Fox News Digital.
The court further stated that the board cannot bar “present or future FCS speakers who have the right to speak at an FCS school board meeting, from reading or citing directly from the text of any book or written work available in an FCS library or classroom, when confronting the school board during the public-comment time at school board meetings.”
FCS informed Fox News Digital that “Our Board voted on the settlement arrangement earlier this month. Our insurance provider handled the legal fee payments.”