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Ankeny couple wants penguin book restricted

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ANKENY - An Ankeny couple wants a book about two male penguins raising a chick together restricted in an elementary school library, claiming it exposes young children to homosexuality.

Officials at Ankeny's East Elementary School denied a request by James and Cindy Dacus to remove the book, "And Tango Makes Three," from the school library or move it to parents-only section. The couple now is seeking to have it moved to a restriction section so only parents can check it out.

The couple, whose kindergartener found the book, has appealed to the school board. The board is expected to consider the request next month.

Cindy Dacus has told school officials that the book tries to normalize homosexuality to children who are too young to understand the lifestyle.

"My question is: How did this book get in our library?" James Dacus asked the school board last month. "This book should never have been allowed in our school libraries."

Cindy Dacus said parents who want their children to have the book can buy it at a book store or find it at a library.

The first took their complaint to the school, where officials decided to keep the book on the shelves.

The book, written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, topped the American Library Association's list of the 10 most challenged books in 2006 and 2007. A check of online library records shows the book is in at least one library at a Des Moines school, Perkins Academy. School officials there declined to comment.

Mike Wright, chairman of the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Iowa Library Association, said school libraries should aim to build a collection that reflects the community.

"Asking the entire community to buckle to one parent's standards isn't reasonable," he said. "If you took everything out of the library that is potentially upsetting to one family, it would be a pretty empty place."

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