Freedom of speech and of the press is stated and upheld as a right in the U.S. Constitution. The freedom to create and to experience works of art is essential for democracy. Freedom of artistic expression, both verbal and non-verbal, in the arts must be preserved.
The suppression of works of art, which authorities or administrations deem “controversial” or “objectionable,” infringes on the rights of the artist and the audience. It is an individual’s right to create, view, and accept or reject any work of art. When artistic expression is limited to a narrow range of “acceptable” forms, it limits creativity, ideas, and stifles freedom.
Missouri Learning Standards in Fine Arts include creating, presenting and responding to works of art. Arts educators must be allowed to engage students with diverse art experiences, which enable them to think critically, inquire, and question, as they respond to a wide variety of images, opinions, and ideologies. Sensitive, well-trained and well-informed arts educators encourage the recognition of other points of view through civil discourse. The exploration of a variety of perspectives provides an opportunity for rich discussion and can lead to mutual understanding. These skills are essential for success in the 21st century.
The Missouri Alliance for Arts Education recommends that every school district develop a least restrictive and rational policy/procedure, to review potentially controversial curricular and library materials. This process should involve a diverse group of students, teachers, parents, principals, other school leaders, and members of the community, to determine what is best for children to read or experience as part of their preK-12+ education.