Sunday, February 24, 2008

Gay Penguins! Hide the Children!

Remember the infamous gay penguin scare of 2006, when it was revealed that gay mating behavior among penguins was not at all unusual? It wasn't just the two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo taking care of an egg and acting as a family, it turned out that this sort of thing was commonly observed in penguin populations in captivity all over the world. Well a couple of authors wrote a children's book about it and people are trying to ban it from libraries all over the country.

The latest instance is in Loudon County, Virginia, where a parent is complaining and trying to get the book removed from an elementary school library, presumably on the theory that if their child happens to stumble upon the fact of the existence of gay penguins, they will turn out to be interior decorators or gym teachers.

"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 says that this book is one of the most challenged books of the last couple years all over the country. All because there are people ridiculous enough to believe that if you even acknowledge the existence of gays, whether human or some other species, their kids will turn out to be gay. I love the smell of irrationality in the morning.

(Article found at Science Blogs)

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(Roy and Silo, a now famous same-sex penguin couple who successfully raised a penguin chick, Tango)

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