Battle over Lake County children’s picture book ban heard in federal court

‘And Tango Makes Three’ once removed from student access

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A children’s book author and a group of Lake County parents took their fight over a picture book to federal court on Wednesday, asking a federal judge to keep the book on school library shelves.

Lake County Schools said it put age restrictions on Peter Parnell’s book “And Tango Makes Three” last school year after the Florida Legislature passed HB 1557, known as the Parental Rights in Education Act.

The legislation was also dubbed by some as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

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The district’s restrictions blocked access to the book for young students in elementary school, but it later restored access to the book after the district said it received more guidance from the Florida Board of Education.

“And Tango Makes Three” is a picture book billed as a true story about two male penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo who hatch an egg and raise the baby penguin together.

Parnell and a group of parents sued Lake County Schools claiming a constitutional violation of First Amendment free speech.

In Jacksonville federal court on Wednesday, attorneys for Parnell and the group asked a judge to block Lake County Schools from restricting access to “And Tango Makes Three” again while their lawsuit proceeds through the court system.

They argued Lake County Schools’ superintendent has said the district is constantly reviewing books for questionable content, and they feared “And Tango Makes Three” could be targeted again.

Attorneys for the school district argued they have already restored access to the book and nothing more can be done.

They argued they have already satisfied what the author was asking for.

Federal judge Brian J. Davis said he would take all of the arguments under advisement and issue his ruling soon.

Watch Solutionaries tackle the issue of banning books.

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About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.