I'm just going to warn everyone ahead of time, I'm quite liberal and this may be a controversial post to some. If so, you might want to just go ahead and skip it and check back tomorrow (I was going to link Sarah Palin's website, but then decided that I really didn't want to give her any extra traffic). If you keep reading, thanks, but please remember that this is my soapbox.
So, yesterday was Mother's Day, a holiday meant to recognize our moms and all that they do (and my mom is great, let's just get that out of the way). But really, what makes a mom? Is it someone who contributes half of her DNA? Gives birth to you? Cares for you? Is a biological mom the same as an adoptive mom? Does the crack-whore who feeds her kids cookies for dinner deserve the same recognition as Susie Homemaker who maker her bread from scratch and starts planning birthday parties six months in advance? They both contributed the same biologically, yet we can all agree the annoying bitch in the minivan is probably higher up on the mommy totem pole that the woman in the five-inch platforms with her boobs hanging out. So, is what makes a mom the ability to care and nurture?
Enter the book in question- And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Pater Parnell, a children's picture book that I lovingly like to call the Gay Penguin Book. This text is a true story about two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that prefer the company of each other, rather than that of the ladies. A zookeeper gives them a spare egg from a couple that had previously failed with more than one, and they care for it like all the heterosexual couples. They name it Tango and live happily ever after.
Of course when the book was published in 2005 conservatives went apeshit. The backlash continues, though, as last month the American Library Association named it the most controversial book of the year (it received the most amount of ban requests). Here's where it gets sticky.
Should it be in school libraries and in school curriculums? Unfortunately, probably not. Parents don't have much control over what their children choose during weekly library times, and if they don't want their kids to read it they should not. Teachers don't have the time to inspect all their students' books to comply with individual parental preferences. So fine, leave it out of the schools.
But I do believe it should be in regular public libraries, as those are ones that families generally visit together- parents or caregivers have much more control over what their kids check out there (or at least they should make the effort to). If someone wants to use this book as a way to teach their kids about different types of families it should be available for them to do so.
So, back to my point about Mother's Day- would you rather see a kid grow up with two dads that love them, or a mom and dad that plop them in front of the TV with Happy Meals day after day? I know that there is an argument for the importance of a female mother and a male father, but as someone who has been fatherless for almost half of my life, I have survived and thrived. It can be done. And there's the Bible argument. While I'd prefer not to go there right now, I don't think God mentions iPods, not even in the New Testament. And please tell me who doesn't do work on the Sabbath or covet their neighbor's crap once in awhile.
A mom and a dad, a mom and a mom, a dad and a dad, or just one of either- it's all about love, stability, and care. The family structure is changing and traditional doesn't always mean better. Kids need to be exposed to things early so that they become tolerant, open-minded adults. I'm not saying you have to teach your child the logistics of homosexuality (although this could be done if you happen to have two Ken dolls), but I really don't feel it's necessary to expose children to bigotry and hate.
I'm sure Tango grew up to be a very well-adjusted penguin.