I know, there were 9 other books awarded the Scarlet B for most challenged books of 2010, but I really just can’t get over the gay penguins.
And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson was challenged for having homosexuality, a (non) religious viewpoint, and being unsuited to the age group.
In this era where children are being bullied, literally to death, for being or “acting” gay, it seems to me that what we need are MORE books that talk about homosexuality from a non-religious viewpoint. And because gay couples are able to adopt children in many states, lesbian couples are able to use in vitro fertilization to have their own children and even in states where adoption by gay parents is illegal they are allowed to foster parent – it seems that birth would be an appropriate age to start talking about it.
When I was in high school – way back in the early ’90s – I had to do a project for Social Studies. It was a partner project and we had to pick a social issue and present on it. At the time I was living in hicksville nowhere Colorado. My mom subscribed to NewsWeek and I read them whenever the cover had something interesting on it. Well, they had just featured a major US scientific study that proved that homosexuality was genetic. There was indisputable proof (supposedly for the first time) that people did not CHOOSE to be gay, they were born that way. They cited the study and evidence of homosexuality in nature including known cases of homosexuality in the animal kingdom, like these two male penguins at a zoo who came together to raise a chick.
So, that’s what I chose for my topic. My partner and I made a video report news cast style and presented all our evidence to the class. Then the floor was opened for debate. Every single person in the class was against our findings. Including my work partner who jumped ship the very second the tape ended. In a public school, the teacher himself brought out the bible texts to tell me that I was an abomination for defending homosexuality. I was told I was going to hell and that God hated me.
After that I was known as the school lesbian. (I wasn’t one, but it probably didn’t help that I took my best female friend to prom as my date.)
I had cool parents who knew what was going on and helped remind me not to take it too seriously. It also helped that we had come to hicksville nowhere from a very liberal hippy town and so I knew that I could get out. In fact my belief was so strong that I graduated High School in only three years, including one semester as a foreign exchange student.
Not everyone has those options, or that support. Often gay kids in these hicksville towns are also repressed and bullied by their parents, and not just one teacher, but all of them. They aren’t encouraged to get out, they are just told to “straighten up”.
At this point I think that most people with gay parents probably live in fairly accepting areas. However that doesn’t mean that everyone at those schools is accepting. Then there’s the fact that those gay parents might have family in not so accepting towns. So limiting these books and discussions to “gay towns like San Francisco” doesn’t work because there’s a good chance that the children of gay parents will have to go visit grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and old friends in bigotville on occasion, and wouldn’t it be nice if they could do that without the neighbors telling them that they, or their parents, are going to burn in hell because of the way they were born.
I know it doesn’t seem like it, but organized religion is actually dying. It doesn’t seem that way, because the die-hard believers shout the loudest. Poll after poll, census after census shows that agnosticism and atheism are on the rise. This should be a red flag for the religious right (and left). Their old testament rhetoric might make their base happy, but it’s a dying base. If they want bodies in the churches it’s time to open up the doors a little wider.
If your god is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent and omnibenevolent (all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present and all-loving), and if he has a plan for the universe that we all fit into – wouldn’t you think that He has a plan for the gays. Wouldn’t you think that he created them that way for a reason? And so by hating on them aren’t you, in fact, hating your creator, questioning his plan, denying his vision?
Judge not, lest ye be judged.
Love thy neighbor as thyself.
There’s more, lots more, where those came from – you know, the Bible. That book that’s always (mis) quoted to promote hate and bigotry.
Whether you believe in God, or not, it is at this point undeniable that homosexuality is natural. These people aren’t choosing a life of ridicule and oppression, they are just trying to live the life they were given, find love, raise families, and enjoy what time they have the same as you and me.
If a kids book about gay penguins can help even one child see that their classmate is part of a loving family even with two dads, or two moms – or if it can help one kid who has gay parents to feel good and natural about that, then it’s a book that should be in every classroom, and every library.
We have book after book showing “traditional” families, no one claims those are age-inappropriate. Why is it so taboo to show another way? It’s not propoganda, it’s just life.