Texas School District Cancels Play About Gay Penguins

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It’s true: life imitates art. In an episode of Parks and Recreation (which NewsFeed certainly considers art), protagonist Leslie Knope received fierce backlash after she performed a “marriage” ceremony for two penguins — later realizing they were both male. Now, in Texas, same-sex penguins are also causing a stir.

The Austin school district has cancelled 10 scheduled performances of And Then Came Tango, a play that chronicles the real-live adventures of two male penguins who raised a baby penguin together in New York City‘s Central Park Zoo. Written by a University of Texas graduate student, the play had been performed for second-graders at Lee Elementary School in October before district officials suspended it, citing concerns about age appropriateness, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

Roy and Silo — the pair of Chinstrap Penguins that inspired the play — were given a fertilized egg a few years back and together raised the hatchling, whom zoo officials named Tango. Joined at the hip (er, wing) for years, these “gay” penguins made headlines prompting a lot of discussion about homosexuality in the animal world. But it wasn’t just in newsprint: the story of Roy and Silo entered the literary sphere in 2005 with the children’s book And Tango Makes Three. The picture book was aimed at young readers but encountered pushback from school districts and libraries across the country, which didn’t agree with the supposed depictions of homosexuality within its pages.

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And now, the stage version is facing similar criticism. Emily Freeman, the student who wrote And Then Came Tango, said her play about this penguin pair is “about different families” and meant to spread message of equality and love. Not everyone agreed that the play was appropriate for schoolchildren, however. “The subject matter communicated in the play is a topic that Austin ISD believes should be examined by parents/guardians who will discuss with their elementary school age children at a time deemed appropriate by the parents/guardians,” Greg Goodman, the school district’s fine arts director, said in a letter. In the past, the district has allowed performances of several University of Texas theater productions. This was the first one to be cancelled — much to Freeman’s disappointment.

“Throughout the play, the definition of family is extended beyond normative representations,” she said in a press release, adding that the narrative seeks to highlight the importance of “voicing your opinions and standing up for your beliefs, no matter how old you are.” She didn’t agree that the content could be seen as inappropriate for young children.

But plenty of Texans think the district made the right choice in banning the production.

“We define marriage very clearly in the state of Texas. So if you have a play that tries to push and promote a different marriage definition, which is clearly illegal, it leads students to ask questions about it, and it leads to the discussion of sex,” Jonathan Saenz, president of the conservative Texas Values group, told the Statesman.

It seems the decision to ban the play at Austin schools is final — but in the meantime, Freeman will put on several free performances, open to the public. Leslie Knope would be proud.

MORE: ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill May Ban Tennessee Teachers From Discussing Homosexuality

10 comments
KeithDiggs
KeithDiggs

"but encountered pushback from school districts and libraries across the country, which didn’t agree with the supposed depictions of homosexuality within its pages." 

So when it's celebrated,, the play is about homosexuality, when that filthstyle is objected too, it's only "SUPPOSED HOMOSEXUALITY". Liberals suck.   When the first swish marched into a school talking about being our children's "teacher" he or she should have been STONED.  The reason that the Lord said to KILL THEM is because of what we're experiencing today! They are a PLAGUE a CANCER on morality that can only be excised. They will not stop until you bow down at the altar of their sodomic "god".  The time is coming when we will have to raise arms against fellow Americans because the liberal/progressive scum of this earth will not stop until we all agree and we WILL NEVER AGREE. Are U ready?

MaxVeritas
MaxVeritas

Where are the plays for Penguins who rape, have sex with baby chicks some ofwhich died and even have sex with the dead?In light of the homosexualinference that homosexuality is acceptable in the penguin/human world, thenshould homosexuals be accounted as socially acceptable to practice these otherabhorrent sexual behaviors?The "perverted" sexual behavior of Adelie penguins shocked a Britishbiologist on Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova mission to the South Pole so muchthat he never formally published his findings. Instead, he wrote a shortmonograph that was distributed to only a few fellow experts and that was lostfor nearly 100 years. The short paper was recently rediscovered and is now ondisplay at the Natural History Museum in Tring, England. The paper documentedwhat George Murray Levick perceived to be necrophilia, homosexual behavior,abuse of young chicks and rape by what he termed "hooligan" males, but moremodern research has demonstrated that the birds were simply responding to whatthey perceived to be sexual cues.Levick witnessed males having sex with dead females — some dead for more thana year. In one case, he observed a male have sex with a female that was badlyinjured and could not walk. He also saw homosexual behavior and males having sexwith baby chicks, sometimes right under their parents' eyes. Some chicks werecrushed and injured, others werekilled.http://www.latimes-dot-com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-perverted-penguins-20120611,0,32225.story

loveirish
loveirish

“We define marriage very clearly in the state of Texas. So if you have a play that tries to push and promote a different marriage definition, which is clearly illegal"

OUCH!!! Apparently once it gets on the topic of marriage, freedom of speech goes right out the window. 

I am getting fed up with narrow minded people (aka most of the Republican Party), where if anything is in their eyes not normal, they automatically hate it. It is just a play about two penguins, who happens to be both males raising a baby penguin, this is the 21st century PEOPLE!!! I feel sorry for these kids, if their parents are extremely conservative, they most likely become as narrow minded as their parents.

nathan
nathan

Their arguments are absurd. If the parents don't want their kids to see it, they don't have to take them. Sure, let's not promote a play that shows kids it's okay to be different and not to put down others who are. That sounds like a great lesson not to teach a child. /sarcasm

MollyTerry8
MollyTerry8

This is ridiculous! They aren't making a play about same sex marriage! Male penguins ARE the ones who incubate and raise the young. The females are gone for a month or more looking for food. This is based off of a true story from the NYC zoo!!! This isn't about gay people or same sex marriage, this is a play about penguins that is based off a true story. My God people!! I'm sorry penguins are just to damn gay for people to handle!!!

AndrewK777
AndrewK777

Because acting like gay families do not exist makes them not exist? Maybe you would be better off preparing your children to enter the real world and not some fantasy land?

bobbynorwich
bobbynorwich

If playwright had presented the two male penguins as brothers and not gay, would Texans have gone bonkers over that too?  My guess is yes.   

Cboyle88
Cboyle88

"We define marriage very clearly in the state of Texas. So if you have aplay that tries to push and promote a different marriage definition,which is clearly illegal, it leads students to ask questions about it,and it leads to the discussion of sex,”

Good lord where do these gay penguins think they are? Questions! discussions about sex! No sir not in America(pronounced MERICA in a southern drawl with a PBR clenched in hand)

jesuguru
jesuguru

@MollyTerry8 What's ridiculous is your disingenuous assertion that this book/play has nothing to do with same-sex marriage advocacy. Debate the merits (or lack thereof) of public school performances of such a play, but don't pretend there's no agenda.