The big news of the week here in the Queen City has been the newspaper-driven controversy about the book, And Tango Makes Three.
Tango, the storybook penguin with two daddies, is headed back to the libraries of four Charlotte-Mecklenburg elementary schools until a CMS panel decides the fate of the briefly banned book next month.
Superintendent Peter Gorman spent Wednesday fielding questions about penguins, homosexuality and censorship after the Observer reported that he and his staff banned “And Tango Makes Three” on Nov. 30. The picture book, based on a true story from New York’s Central Park Zoo, is about two male penguins who pair up and hatch an adopted egg.
Gorman said he “screwed up” by yanking the book. He blamed a miscommunication between him and Chief of Staff Robert Avossa.
After the Observer questioned the ban Tuesday, Gorman had his staff brief him on CMS policy for handling challenges. The Tango books will be returned to Eastover, Hickory Grove, Mallard Creek and Myers Park elementary schools today, Gorman said.
“One of the copies I have right now,” he said Wednesday evening. “It’s in my briefcase.”
Before this, CMS hadn’t banned a library book in more than a decade. Normally, a parent or community member would file a complaint that would be reviewed at the school in question.
Frankly, it is refreshing for a leader (elected or not) to take responsibility for his or her actions. Gorman is new to his role and many things he has done have been a welcome change to the monolithic Charlotte-Mecklenberg School District.
Banning a book is not one of them, but admitting he messed up is.
Not having read the book, I can’t make a judgment on its merits. But I do think parents have a right to challenge the idea of having a sensitive subject like gay parenting presented to young children in a cartoon-like book.
Meanwhile, an update on the original gay penguins…
A quick recap: Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo, paired up and hatched baby Tango from an adopted egg. Their story was immortalized in a 2005 children’s book.
Meanwhile, Silo ditched Roy last year for Scrappy, a California gal. Wednesday’s report left some readers worried about Roy, after the Observer quoted a New York Times report saying he “has been seen alone, in a corner, staring at a wall.”
Roy remains a bachelor, says zoo spokeswoman Kate McIntyre. But she says readers shouldn’t fret.
“Penguins do that (look at the wall) when they don’t want to look at a visitor,” she said.
Silo and Scrappy nested together but failed to produce a chick. It seems Silo, a mature 19-year-old (penguins live to their mid-20s) took up with a much younger mate, who isn’t ready to reproduce.
Tango is 6 now and has found a mate of her own: Tazuni, another young female.
Ah….. what a “Will & Grace” ending.