What does Intellectual Freedom mean?
It means that our students - all of them - have the right to information about what interests them, even if it isn’t in the curriculum. “[T]he rights of library users to read, seek information, and speak freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment” are the core of student rights and school library responsibilities.
Our students want to know about the world. They can be curious about minutiae of science or large questions of philosophy or how polar bears reproduce. They wonder about how their own bodies work or what that multi-syllabic word for a terrible disease means – or what the law says about topics in the news. Our students are growing into citizens of our world; they will only be well prepared to act wisely as adults if they are taught now to find the information they need because that is what wise adults do.
Intellectual freedom also means all students have a right to privacy about what they are studying and reading. They may not want the world to know that a parent has a rare cancer – or that there is a drug problem in the neighborhood – or any of hundreds and thousands of possible topics about which they happen to need information.
Censorship is the opposite of intellectual freedom. It means that a school or library determines that some topics will not be available. Books about puberty, gender identity or race issues have sometimes been avoided in collection development, even though these are topics about which many, maybe most, students have questions. School libraries owe it to their community to offer the broadest range of topics possible within budget and space constraints, and respecting the community’s norms.
"Intellectual freedom is a core value of the library profession, and a basic right in our democratic society. A publicly supported library provides free, equitable, and confidential access to information for all people of its community." Public school libraries are publicly supported.
NOTE: The two quotes here are from Intellectual Freedom: Issues and Resources