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Florida school board reverses decision nixing access to children’s book about a male penguin couple

by Ryan Lee
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fokus keyword: Florida school board

The school board in central Florida has reversed a previous decision that limited access to a well-known children’s book about a male penguin couple raising a chick. This reversal comes after restrictions were imposed at school libraries due to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.

The School Board of Lake County and Florida education officials had previously sought to dismiss a First Amendment lawsuit filed in June by students and the authors of “And Tango Makes Three.” The plaintiffs challenged the new law and the imposed restrictions, which prohibited classroom discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity in specific grades.

However, since the age restrictions on the book have now been lifted, following a memo from the Florida Department of Education clarifying that the law only applied to classroom instruction and not school libraries, the lawsuit is considered moot. The motion to dismiss the lawsuit, filed by Florida education officials and school board members, states that the court lacks jurisdiction due to the case being moot and the plaintiffs lacking standing.

A recent conflict between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has placed the “Don’t Say Gay” law at the forefront of public debate. DeSantis is seeking the GOP presidential nomination for 2024 and has utilized the culture wars as a major component of his campaign. He and Republican lawmakers even took over control of the district after Disney openly opposed the law.

The case was brought before U.S. District Judge Brian Davis in Ocala, Florida. On Monday, the school board and education officials requested a postponement of further discovery pending his decision on whether to dismiss the case. Last week, Judge Davis declined to issue an immediate ruling in favor of the students and authors, noting that the question of access to the book was no longer relevant since the school board had lifted the restrictions.

“And Tango Makes Three” tells the real-life story of two male penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo who formed a couple. After observing their efforts to incubate a rock-shaped egg, a zookeeper gave them a real egg, resulting in the birth of a chick named Tango. The American Library Association has included the book in its list of the 100 most censored titles over the past decade.

You can follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at @MikeSchneiderAP for more updates on this story.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword: Florida school board

What book was restricted due to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, and what has changed?

The book “And Tango Makes Three,” a children’s story about a male penguin couple, was restricted in Florida school libraries due to the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. The School Board of Lake County has since reversed that decision, lifting the restrictions.

Why was a lawsuit filed over the restriction of the book?

A First Amendment lawsuit was filed by students and the authors of “And Tango Makes Three” in June, challenging both the restrictions placed on the book and Florida’s new law prohibiting classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity.

What was the outcome of the lawsuit?

The lawsuit is considered moot since the Florida Department of Education clarified that the new law only applied to classroom instruction, not school libraries, and the restrictions on the book have been lifted.

Who were the major players in the controversy surrounding the “Don’t Say Gay” law?

The controversy involved Florida education officials, the School Board of Lake County, students and authors, as well as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who was challenged by Disney over the law.

What is the content of the book “And Tango Makes Three”?

The book recounts the true story of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo in New York who were devoted to each other and were given an egg to care for. The chick they raised was named Tango.

How does the “Don’t Say Gay” law affect the classroom?

The “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida prohibits classroom discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels. It became the subject of intense debate and legal challenges.

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