Tango Ruffles Feathers in Virginia

Tango Ruffles Feathers in Virginia

And Tango Makes Three, an award-winning but controversial children’s book by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson about two male penguins hatching and parenting a baby chick, made more headlines in February when Loudoun County (Va.) Public Schools Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III decided to move the book from the public shelves of 16 elementary schools to areas accessible only to parents and teachers. The action reverses the decision of a Sugarland Elementary principal and advisory committee who chose to maintain students’ access to the book despite a parent’s objection several months ago to the book’s gay-positive themes.

The removal, which has been criticized by local parents, gay rights advocates, and even television host Oprah Winfrey, has also come under fire. School Board Vice Chairman John Stevens feels the decision is indicative of a weakness in the school system’s book policy. “After spending a week investigating the decision, I believe that the superintendent and every LCPS staff member involved faithfully followed the policies provided by the school board,” Stevens told Leesburg Today February 20. “I also believe that the policies, last revised in 1993, are deeply flawed and led to a bad decision. I will work to overhaul these policies.” Stevens announced plans to introduce new policies at a March 4 meeting of the board’s Legislative Policy Committee.

“[Hatrick] thought the book, for some of the younger students, would be better read with an adult or a teacher,” school spokesman Wayde B. Byard said in the February 17 Washington Post.

The American Library Association listed Tango as one of the most challenged books of 2006, as well as a Notable Children’s Book of 2006.

Posted on February 22, 2008. Discuss.