This story appeared in the Loudoun County (which shares a border with the home of yours truly) regional newspaper this week:
An award-winning children’s book was recently removed from general circulation at Loudoun County public elementary school libraries.And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson is based on the true story of two male penguins who took turns sitting on an orphaned egg at the Central Park Zoo. In the story, the penguins, Roy and Silo, start their family when the chick, Tango, is hatched.
A parent at Sugarland Elementary in Sterling filed a request with the school principal that the book be reviewed. The principal and several staff members deemed the book appropriate for general circulation.
The parent appealed the school’s decision with the Loudoun County Public Schools administration. According to David Jones, the LCPS library media supervisor, a district-level committee was formed with teacher, parent, school librarian and administrative representatives who reviewed the book and offered a recommendation to Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III, who ultimately decided on the book’s status.
Dr. Hatrick determined that And Tango Makes Three should be taken out of general circulation at the elementary level and placed in each school’s professional library. Teachers may reference and share the book with students at their own discretion. Children and parents may not check the book out of the library.
The American Library Association cites And Tango Makes Three as one of 2006’s most challenged books.
David Weintraub, president of Equality Loudoun, a gay advocacy group, said that the rights of the parent who challenged this book trumped the rights of parents who may support it. “Loudoun County Public Schools serve children from all kinds of families, including families with two moms or two dads. The administration and school board need to remember that when confronted with this sort of book challenge.”
I’m just guessing here, but I’m pretty sure that this children’s book does not discuss the ins and outs of homosexual lovemaking techniques. Moreover, while it probably is illustrated, I doubt that the pictures are pornographic. And I know it’s not even about humans, homosexual or otherwise! It simply depicts a penguin family that has two dads instead of a mom and a dad. This subject matter is unsuitable for children because…?
What is the matter with the right-wing, family values crowd? Would it have been better for the males to have left the egg unattended so that the baby inside would never have hatched? If so, then maybe right-to-lifers can tell me some more about the sanctity of life before birth (or hatching)! Good Grief! The USA has innocent people wasting their lives on death row, has wrongfully executed dozens of others only to exclaim later, “Oops, wrong guy – sorry about that,” has tortured prisoners with skin colors and accents that their captors don’t like, is illegally occupying a country and making threatening noises at that country’s neighbors – and people are concerned about a book that they presume is about gay penguins! It seems to me that the USA has far more substantive moral issues to deal with than gay guys, gay gals, gay guinea pigs, gay goats, gay geese or gay penguins.
I’d be doubled over in laughter if the situation weren’t so contemptible. Instead, I think I’m going to be ill. Excuse me.
— the chaplain
P.S. Visit Phillychief’s blog for his unique perspective on this story.