Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Homophobic Censorship

This story appeared in the Loudoun County (which shares a border with Fairfax County, 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 speculating 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. What is the matter with the right-wing, family values crowd? Would it have been better for the two 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 discover 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 which they presume is about gay penguins!

I'd be doubled over in laughter if the situation weren't so pathetic. Instead, I think I'm going to be ill. Excuse me.


Dave said...

How can a story about two male animals finding an egg that needs protection and hatching doing so and then helping to raise the hatched penguin be about the gay lifestyle and sexual activity? This seems to be Tinky Winky all over again where Christian fundamentalist uncover and read into gay symbols and activity when it does not exist. These individuals only make fundamentalist and evangelical Christians look paranoid and foolish.

Stephen said...

Extremist thinking is not just confined to some far off Islamic country. Americans should be concerned about what is going on in their own house.
These penquins were doing what is natural - egg sitting! It has always been a shared male and female thing to do. It's instinct that these males fulfill the need to sit on a viable egg.

Evie said...

Stephen said: Americans should be concerned about what is going on in their own house.

Believe me, many Americans are concerned. That's why the voter turnout for Democratic primaries has far exceeded the Republican turnout in every case. Many Americans know that we need a radical change in direction from where King W has been driving us.

David Weintraub said...

Would it have been better for the two males to have left the egg unattended, so that the baby inside would never have hatched?

I suspect this is a sore spot for parents seeking the special right to isolate their kids from every idea with which they disagree. We point out in our blog about this (First, they came for the penguins) that being a heterosexual couple doesn't guarantee the ability to parent. The egg in the true story was taken away from a "straight" penguin couple that had been unable to hatch two eggs at a time. You never hear of gay adoptive couples murdering their children. That's because we don't have them by accident. We always really want to be parents.

Anyway, thanks for posting this.

David, Equality Loudoun

Evie said...

Mr. Weintraub:
Thank you for dropping in and providing a link to your blog post about this story. I enjoyed learning more about Tango's true story (I'm glad she's doing well) and getting some more information about the situation in Loudoun County.

Silly me, I thought northern Virginia was the liberal region of our Commonwealth!

Jenn said...

NuDavid eludes to something very important, the emergence of the gay family. going through the adoption process, you come to learn and appreciate the importance of good "parenting", not good "mommy-ing" and "daddy-ing". it's all about who can provide a stable, loving environment for a child who needs a home. so there's 2 dads...2 moms. are these people saying that these children are better off in group homes or foster homes with an uncertain and unstable future?

Barbara said...

It's a children's book for crying out loud. This reminds me of the outcry over Bert and Ernie in Sesame Street.

Adults need to stop analysing everything to death and just let kids be kids. Kids have a wonderful imagination that somehow gets squashed before they beome adults.