A dispute over the removal of the ‘And Tango Makes Three’ book from a Florida school district’s libraries is sent to mediation

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banned books, First Amendment
Banned books. Displayed at The Hive St. Pete. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News (Aug. 2023)

©2024 The News Service of Florida

A federal judge this week sent to mediation a lawsuit about the removal of the children’s book “And Tango Makes Three” from Escambia County school library shelves — while also scheduling a trial in 2025.

U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor issued an order Tuesday, after ruling last month that two authors and a student could pursue First Amendment claims against the Escambia County School Board.

The school board had sought dismissal of allegations by the book’s co-authors, Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, and a student identified by the initials B.G.

But Winsor refused to dismiss claims that the board violated the authors’ right to freedom of expression and the student’s right to receive information by removing the book.

Tuesday’s order required mediation to try to resolve the dispute, but Winsor also scheduled a March 4, 2025, trial date.

“And Tango Makes Three” tells the story of two male penguins who raised a penguin chick at New York’s Central Park Zoo.

The lawsuit contends that the book was targeted for “illegitimate, narrowly partisan, political reasons,” as it depicts same-sex parents raising a child.

The case has played out amid controversy in Florida and other states about school officials removing or restricting access to books.

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