Book Bans Escalate at Florida School Against Its Popular Books

Book bans aren’t getting any easier. A story about gay penguins is fighting against Florida school district restrictions, and now it’s a lawsuit.

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The struggle against book bans rages on, and especially in Florida, it’s been a difficult battle. Florida’s Lake County School District stands accused of limiting access to And Tango Makes Three, which is a children’s book about penguins by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson. Unlike other book bans that have caused protests, parents and students went a step further for And Tango Makes Three. They’re suing the school district for wrongly taking away the book. Here’s what we know so far.

What is And Tango Makes Three?


And Tango Makes Three is an award-winning book that came out in 2005. Since its publication, the book has received multiple awards, including the Henry Bergh Award and Bank Street Best Books of the Year, among many others. So, what’s so charming about these penguins? And Tango Makes Three follows Roy and Silo, two male penguins who want to be a family together at Central Park Zoo. They adopt another penguin as their kid, Tango. From there comes the whole discourse. Tango has two male parents.

It’s based on the true story of two male penguins who were in love in 1998. So it’s factual as well as adorable, but the factual part doesn’t stop it from getting banned.

Book bans that Hurt And Tango Makes Three.

Lake County School District’s attempt to ban And Tango Makes Three may be the latest attempt to ban this book, but it’s not the first. And Tango Makes Three is part of the Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged books, according to the American Library Association. Unfortunately, these penguins have faced bans almost since their publication.

How did they ban it?

If it’s just about penguins, how did Lake County School District find a reason to ban it? Well, it all has to do with The Parental Rights in Education Act passed in 2022. Otherwise known as HB 1557, this bill stops teachers from educating about sex and gender orientation in younger grades, from about kindergarten through third grade. The bill technically only prohibits it in a way that is not appropriate for the age group, but it’s stretched to encompass cases like this as well.

Since HB 1557 was originally passed, it expanded with HB 1069—preventing sex or gender education to eighth grade—and finished with a final ban in April, refusing sex or gender education through high school.

Lake County School District’s ban only stretches through the third grade, like HB 1557. But if the ban stays, there’s little stopping them from extending it all the way through high school.

Can a lawsuit save And Tango Makes Three from further book bans?

As both members of the community and the authors push their lawsuit, if they win, it could protect And Tango Makes Three, along with other books, from wrongful bans. The lawsuit argues that restricting the book violates the first amendment right of freedom of expression. They are also hoping to stop HB 1069 and have it declared unconstitutional since it’s so vague. If they succeed, stopping HB 1069 could keep a lot of books on public school shelves.

While we don’t know the outcome yet, we can only hope And Tango Makes Three helps pave the way to stopping book bans, especially in Florida.

Want to read more about book bans? Check out this article.