Friday, December 15, 2006

Hometown Homophobia

Book on male penguin pair as parents riles Westby dad

See the text below.

It will never cease to amaze me that people get riled up by different forms of love for kids.

As if love is (or should be) a scarce good.

Happy Holidays, Homophobe!

WESTBY, Wis. — A book about two male penguins raising a chick will remain on the shelf at Westby’s public library, despite a local resident’s complaint it is inappropriate for young children.

The book, “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, is based on a true story of a pair of male penguins in New York City’s Central Park Zoo that adopted a fertilized egg and reared the baby.

The book is geared for ages 4 to 8.

Westby parent Peter Rau had called on the board of the Bekkum Memorial Library to label the book as controversial or remove it, saying it has subtle homosexual undertones.

“I personally don’t want this lifestyle taught to my child without my knowledge,” Rau told the board.

“I’m not requesting a book burning or even censorship, but I have to admit I was taken back and stopped short of finishing the book, which my son checked out of the library and I was reading to him,” Rau said.

Rau cited research he said showed children raised in a homosexual environment during their impressionable years can show detrimental effects.

He added he believes the book’s message goes against the country’s values.

“I’m in no way trying to slight anyone’s choice, and people should have the choice to believe what they choose, but I don’t believe this book is appropriate for children my son’s age,” Rau said.

Librarian Cindy Brown-Lucus told Rau she respected his opinion, but she has an obligation to have books available that represent all patrons and recognize diversity.

“Every child’s lifestyle deserves to be reflected in a picture book. The way you view the undertones of this book might be totally opposite of another readers’ viewpoint,” Brown-Lucus said. “This book has received many respected reviews. It shows that daddies know what to do in any given situation.”

The board voted to keep the book available without label or restrictions.

Penguin book found in La Crosse schools

At least five elementary schools in La Crosse carry “And Tango Makes Three.” The book hasn’t been challenged by parents, said Darcy Maxwell, library media center director at Summit Elementary School, which just received the book for student use.

She said the book was selected, as all books the district purchases are, because of a strong review, in this case in the July 2005 issue of “School Library Journal.” The book also serves a teaching need, as many of the elementary schools study polar animals, she said.

Dorothy Jasperson is editor of the Westby Times.

Thanks to She-Who-Is-Named-After-The-Elf-Princess for the tip!

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