Gay Penguins Remain Hot Topic

tangoAmong books that engender complaints because of sexually explicit content, violence, or profanity, the book most complained about is a kid’s story about a baby penguin with two daddies.

The American Library Association announced recently that the year’s most challenged book – for the third year in a row – And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson’s and Peter Parnell’s award-winning picture story about two male penguins who become parents. Tango was cited for being anti-family, pro-gay and anti-religion.

Challenged books are those that have been most likely to inspire complaints from parents, educators, and others.

The ALA listed 513 challenges last year, a sizable increase of 93 from 2007, but well below the levels of 700 and higher in the 1990s. The ALA defines a challenge as a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.”

For every challenge tallied, about four or five end up unreported, according to the ALA.

An ALA spokeswoman said that books were actually pulled at least 74 times last year. Those removed included Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (refers to masturbation), Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper (sexually explicit) and Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down (profanity).

In the fall, the library association will co-sponsor the 28th annual “Banned Books Week,” a nationwide program founded in 1982 that highlights banned and challenged books.

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