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‘Gay penguins’ book stirs controversy, ignores full story

CHICAGO (BP)–A children’s book based on a true story about two “gay penguins” is causing concern from parents in several schools and towns nationwide, and thus far the controversy largely has ignored an important fact — the penguins long ago split up, with one of them going on to nest with the opposite sex.

“And Tango Makes Three” is the name of a colorful illustrated children’s book about two male penguins, Roy and Silo, who began nesting together at New York’s Central Park Zoo about seven years ago. After being together for several years, they were given a fertilized egg, which they incubated until it hatched. The new penguin was named “Tango.”

According to the Associated Press, a 5-year-old student at Shiloh (Ill.) Elementary School brought the book home from the school library and asked her mother, Lilly Del Pinto, to read it to her. Del Pinto thought the book was “pretty and beautiful,” although her positive thoughts about the book were short-lived. Halfway through the book, she discovered the two penguins were in love.

“That’s when I ended the story,” she told AP.

“Of course, we know the kids eventually are going to learn about the homosexual lifestyle,” she said. “That’s not the issue. Please let us decide when our kids are ready. Please let us parent our kids.”

School superintendent Jennifer Filyaw said the book is “adorable” and age-appropriate, AP said.

“My feeling is that a library is to serve an entire population,” Filyaw said. “It means you represent different families in a society — different religions, different beliefs. That’s the role of a school library.”

The book also caused a stir in a Missouri town, AP reported.

But in real life, Silo left Roy more than a year ago. It seems Silo began nesting with a female penguin, Scrappy, who had been transferred to New York from SeaWorld in San Diego, the New York Post first reported. Although the six-year relationship between Silo and Roy made headlines nationwide, the breakup was mentioned far less. The book was published before the two penguins split.

Warren Throckmorton, associate professor of psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, joked that Silo was the “world’s first ex-gay penguin.”

“At times gay activists will use the animal kingdom to support the link between naturalism and human sexuality, and yet when Silo … took up with a female penguin, the gay activists were downplaying the importance of that,” Throckmorton told Baptist Press. “… You can’t have it both ways. It either means something or it doesn’t.”

Several years ago, when the news about Roy and Silo’s “gay relationship broke,” liberal activists quickly pointed to it as a supporting argument for “gay marriage” in the human world.

“[I]f Roy and Silo can do it, why can’t humans?” Gersh Kuntzman of the New York Post wrote in an online March 2004 column at Newsweek’s website. “Indeed, if homosexual marriages exist in the animal kingdom, they must be normal.”

But Throckmorton said neither side of the “gay marriage” debate should “read too much into” the relationship between Roy and Silo — whether the two penguins are together or apart. Indeed, there are reports of other “same-sex penguins” in the Central Park Zoo.

There are “numerous” instances of animal behavior that shouldn’t be emulated, he said.

“What we shouldn’t do is commit the naturalistic fallacy that if it’s natural then it’s morally acceptable,” Throckmorton said. “I don’t get my moral reasoning from watching the barnyard. I get my moral compass from other places. If I want to know what’s moral, I go to church. I don’t go to the barnyard.”
For information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust