Virgil v. School Board of Columbia County, 862 F.2d 1517 (11th Cir. 1989)
A public high school discontinued use of a textbook for a humanities course after receiving a parental complaint. The parent objected to an English translation of the Greek dramatist Aristophanes Lysistrata and to English poet Geoffrey Miller’s The Miller’s Tale. The parent believed that the two works of art were too vulgar. Several other parents then sued, saying the removal of the textbook violated the First Amendment.
Whether school officials may remove a book from the curriculum because of its vulgarity and explicit sexual references.
In a 3-0 decision, an Eleventh Circuit panel held that school officials can remove books from the curriculum if they believe they are too vulgar for students.
"In matters pertaining to the curriculum, educators have been accorded greater control over expression than they may enjoy in other spheres of activity." Schools may remove books from the curriculum if they have a legitimate educational reason for doing so. Removing books because of vulgar or explicitly sexual language qualifies as such a reason.
"Like the district court, we seriously question how young persons just below the age of majority can be harmed by these masterpieces of Western literature. However, having concluded that there is no constitutional violation, our role is not to second-guess the wisdom of the Board's action." (Judge R. Lanier Anderson)
Sunday, May 19, 2013 | 11:17:42