Texas School District Cancels Play About Gay Penguin Parents

Texas School District Cancels Play About Gay Penguin Parents
Sunnivie Brydum

A school district in Austin, Texas, has put the kibosh on a play about a pair of male penguins who raised an abandoned chick, saying the content is inappropriate for school-age children.

According to the Huffington Post, The Austin Independent School District cancelled 10 scheduled performances of And Then Came Tango, a play based on the two male chinstrap penguins at New York's Central Park Zoo who made international headlines when they adopted an abandoned egg and raised the chick together.

"The subject matter communicated in the play is a topic that the [AISD] 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," said AISD fine arts director Greg Goodman.

Playwright Emily Freeman, a graduate student at the University of Texas, said the play is about different families, which she believes state law deems appropriate for elementary-school classrooms. "I can't see the argument that it's not age appropriate for kids in second and third grade," she told the Austin Statesman.

But Jonathan Saenz, president of the conservative Texas Values group, sees the play as a dangerous and unlawful act. 

"We define marriage very clearly in the state of Texas," Saenz said. "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."

Because, obviously, we wouldn't want our children to know anything about sex. Or families. Or penguins. 

Freeman responded in a press release with a definition of family that we'd be much more comfortable with schools teaching: "Throughout the play, the definition of family is extended beyond normative representations," said Freeman. "Family is an entire colony of penguins, a young girl and her single mom, a zookeeper and the animals he tends, and two male penguins and their adopted egg. As these family structures are threatened in the play, we learn the power of voicing your opinions and standing up for your beliefs, no matter who you are."

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