The Rochester, Minnesota school district has been the scene of controversy over the availability of the children’s book And Tango Makes Three in the library of Gibbs Elementary School. Parents of one student have sought to have the book removed from the shelves.
The book tells the story of two male penguins who raise a chick together. The story is based on real penguins, Roy and Silo, who shared egg-sitting duties at their nest in New York City’s Central Park Zoo in 2004. The objecting parents in Minnesota expressed a belief that the book promotes homosexuality and was “inappropriate for elementary school students.”1
School Board chairperson Julie Workman and Superintendent Michael Munoz ordered the book removed after receiving the initial complaint in Fall 2011, but a 13-member school district ‘reconsideration committee’ reversed that order, concluding that officials had violated school district policy on access to educational materials. At least one school board meeting about the controversy had a standing-room-only crowd, which overwhelmingly affirmed the book and opposed the district officials’ initial attempts at censorship.
By late March 2012, a ‘temporary resolution’ was reached with the objecting parents, allowing the book to remain the library, but requiring that at least one of the objecting parents be present when their child checks-out books in the future.3
1 Mary Elizabeth Williams, “Rochester’s Ridiculous Banned Book Controversy,” Salon.com, 20 March 2012, accessed 3 April 2012, <http://www.salon.com/2012/03/20/rochesters_ridiculous_banned_book_controversy/singleton/>.
2“Book Brouhaha: 'Tango' Back in School,” StarTribune.com, 24 March 2012, accessed 11 April 2012, <http://www.startribune.com/local/144097246.html.>