The Escambia County School Board is asking a judge to move a federal lawsuit about access in school libraries to the children’s book “And Tango Makes Three.”
Attorneys for the Escambia board filed a motion Wednesday arguing that the case should be heard in Pensacola, rather than in Jacksonville.
Authors Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and a third-grade Escambia County student filed the lawsuit against the Escambia and Lake County school districts and the State Board of Education.
The lawsuit alleges First Amendment violations in removing or restricting access to the book in school libraries. In part, it seeks an injunction to require restoring the book to Escambia school library shelves.
“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 has been targeted for “illegitimate, narrowly partisan, political reasons.”
The lawsuit also raises issues about a controversial state law that restricts instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.
The case was initially filed against the Lake County district and the state in the federal Middle District of Florida, which includes Lake County and Jacksonville.
But the lawsuit was later revised to include Escambia County, which is in the federal Northern District of Florida.
In the motion Wednesday, the Escambia attorneys raised a series of arguments for moving the case to Pensacola.
“While plaintiffs challenge actions of the Lake County School Board, any inconvenience to them is outweighed by the fact plaintiffs are actively seeking a preliminary injunction against the Escambia County defendants, whereas they have sought no similar extraordinary relief against the Lake County defendants,” the motion said. “Further, the Lake County defendants do not object to this request for transfer, obviating any concern about convenience to them.”
Jacksonville-based U.S. District Judge Brian Davis issued an order Thursday that said he was taking the motion under advisement.
Also, Davis rescheduled a preliminary-injunction hearing from Sept. 15 to Sept. 22.
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