literacy campaigns

Gay Penguin Book Knocked From Most-Challenged List By Chick Lit Written In Teen Code

Sad news UGUYS! And Tango Makes Three, the 2005 book about gay papa penguins raising a chick, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, has been booted from its top spot on the American Library Association’s Most Frequently Challenged Books for 2009. After claiming the title for three years straight, it’s been pushed to the No. 2 spot by ttyl, the teen girl book written by Lauren Myracle (and written in teenage shorthand), whose other tome Luv Ya Bunches was temporarily yanked from Scholastic because one character has two gay moms.

ttyl received complaints about nudity, sexually explicit and offensive language, and drugs. Score!

But fret not: Gay books are still among the most complained about. Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, at No. 3, features a main character with two gay friends. And Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper: A Novel, at No. 7, dares have a character with a lesbian sister.

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  • Tommy Marx

    I’m sad to hear “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is the third most challenged book, although I doubt it’s solely for the gay characters. That was an extraordinary novel, and I’m fortunate enough to have a copy signed by the author himself. God forbid anyone right a book for children or young adults that has more complexity or challenges conceptions more than, say, a Hardy Boys mystery.

  • Sam

    These “banned books” lists don’t make sense to me: often we’re talking about school libraries with limited yearly purchasing budgets. I have a friend who’s a school librarian, and she uses up her entire purchasing budget every year; in the course of doing so, she makes necessarily subjective decisions about what is age-appropriate and useful for her audience. She also makes decisions about what is and is not total crap!

    For example, she didn’t purchase the last Twilight book (despite its wild popularity with middle schoolers), not because she thought it should be “banned,” but rather because she thought the content was too adult for her age group. She also thinks that the writing sucks and it has little redeeming value. Does that count as “banning” or “challenging” a book?

  • Steve

    Most librarians don’t have time to actually read every book before deciding whether or not to buy it. Most do, however, accept requests from teachers or students. If a teacher requests a particular title, it almost always added to the collection. The exceptions are if the book is either unavailable or extremely expensive. If several students request a particular title, it is normally added. Librarians do use editorial judgment, of course, to avoid buying porn, as well as other inappropriate materials.

    Most school administrators have learned to trust their librarians. The administrators don’t have time to review every purchasing decision. They hire trained, competent people, and let them do their jobs. A good librarian is a very valuable member of the faculty.

    The practice of banning or removing certain controversial books from libraries has been pretty thoroughly discredited, also. The only sure way to get almost every student in a school to read something is to ban it from the library. The news will get out, and the students will find copies. Just requesting that a book be banned is almost as effective.

    If you really don’t want them to read something, you can just put it on a hard-to-reach shelf in the wrong section.

  • Jeremy

    Challenged my ass! Kids these days learn the word “Fuck” at 1st grade. They are much smarter than we thought, but often misguided. This book can teach kids a thing or two about gay so they won’t say the word “faggot” without understand the meaning of it.

  • MaxH

    Jeez, Jeremy, I don’t know where you send your kids to school, but when I taught elementary, the students didn’t say ‘fuck’ until 5th grade, or ‘faggot’ until 7th. And teaching them about gay people isn’t going to stop them using the word ‘faggot’ in a derogatory way – if their brothers and fathers are still using the word, they’re going to do the same, no matter what some book says.

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