Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Gay Penguins Banned with no Review

Here at AS IF!, we've often said that it is always a mistake, one with terrible consequences, when a library or school district bans a book without following an existing policy or, worse, when no actual policy exists.

And Tango Makes Three, the "gay penguin" book, has been banned in North Carolina. And boy, was the review policy not followed:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Superintendent Peter Gorman and his top lieutenants have ordered a picture book about presumably gay penguins removed from school libraries, the first time Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has banned a book in more than a decade.

But Gorman said Tuesday he'll let a committee review the decision after Charlotte Observer questions revealed he and his staff sidestepped CMS policy.

The ban came from a miscommunication between him and his chief of staff, Robert Avossa, Gorman said. "I screwed this one up."

"And Tango Makes Three," the real-life story of "the very first penguin in the zoo to have two daddies," has drawn objections in schools or public libraries in seven states.

All decided to keep the book, according to the American Library Association. Charlotte-Mecklenburg's public library has also rejected a request to remove it, a spokeswoman said.

CMS pulled the penguin love story without a formal complaint. Gorman said a couple of parents had asked him about the book, in which two male penguins at New York's Central Park Zoo pair up and hatch an adopted egg, and Republican county commissioner Bill James had e-mailed him.

James said he read an online article about the book and asked Gorman if CMS libraries had it. "I am opposed to any book that promotes a homosexual lifestyle to elementary school students as normal," he said.

Four of CMS's 93 elementaries - Eastover, Hickory Grove, Mallard Creek and Myers Park Traditional - had the book.

On Nov. 30, top CMS administrators Ruth Perez, Ronald Dixon and Gloria Miller sent a memo to principals and media specialists explaining the decision to ban the book from all schools.

"First, it is a picture book that focuses on homosexuality. Second, we did not feel that such information was vital to primary students. Next, we did not believe the book would stimulate growth in ethical standards, and the book is too controversial."

Banning books is controversial, too.

"One parent's decision shouldn't dictate whether or not the book is available to all the other families in the community," said Deborah Caldwell-Stone of the American Library Association. "Any challenge to a book is ultimately an attempt to remove an idea from public discourse."

Banning "Tango" is a bad idea, she said, and doing it without an open, balanced review is worse. READ ON


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "gayness" of the penguins is false, therefore the book is false:

4:59 AM  
Blogger Jordan Sonnenblick said...

Has anyone else ever noticed that all the really trenchant "anti" posters always hide behind anonymity?

Also, just because one of the penguins is now having a relationship with a member of the opposite sex doesn't mean the old relationship was "false." If a person marries, divorces, and remarries, does that mean the first marriage magically never happened? Please.

Finally, as if the blatant illogic of this post weren't irritating enough to a group of writers, the entire post is a comma-splice error. To the anonymous poster, please feel free to click and learn:


5:57 AM  
Blogger Brent Hartinger said...

Oh, man, I don't know where to begin! But your response is right on, Jordan.

It's worth noting that, despite the fact that one of the penguins did pick an opposite-sex partner, there are currently 4 other same-sex partner couples in the same zoo.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Children should not be subjected to radical p.c. propaganda.

12:38 AM  
Blogger Emily Huscher said...

Anonymous, what do you mean that "Children should not be subjected to radical p.c. propaganda." First off, there is no problem with children seeing the world the way that it really is. It's more than likely that most children's parents have gay or lesbien friends. The pengiun story, a true story, tells a modern-day story of love. The book just doesn't include the change of love later on. Homosexuality between animals is not radical, it is actually not too unusual. The mallard duck is another example of animals that tend to pair up with other animals of the same gender. For a more complete list, please see

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Just to let readers know that the comments I removed all had links to porn sites. They were just masquerading as real comments...

9:33 AM  
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8:36 PM  

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