Gay penguin parenthood stories ruffle some conservative feathers

Gay penguin parenthood stories ruffle some conservative feathers

Sphen and Magic - Screenshot from YouTube video: Same-sex penguin couple is first in Australia to nurture foster egg

Sphen and Magic – Screenshot from YouTube video: Same-sex penguin couple is first in Australia to nurture foster egg

Everyone loves a penguin story. Well, not quite everyone, it turns out.

The media have been reporting stories about gay penguins for decades. For example, their mating rituals were highlighted in 1998 in New York’s Central Park Zoo. Male couple Roy and Silo hatched an egg from another pair and raised Tango as their own. Their partnership was presented in a children’s book, And Tango Makes Three. It has been controversial since its publication in 2005, with objections to its presence in schools and libraries ever since.

A recent instance has emerged in Florida, USA, where a school board blocked access to the book for students from Kindergarten to Grade 3. Lawsuits are being planned against the ban by families and the book’s authors.

There has been a raging argument on social media:


The school board in Escambia County, Florida just voted to BAN AND TANGO MAKES THREE, the true story of two male Penguins who lived in the Central Park Zoo

The pair build a nest together and raise an adopted child, Tango

There is no sexual content of any kind

— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) February 21, 2023

No, that’s not an appropriate book. As a parent, I do not want my kids reading that nonsense at school. School is designed to teach children how to read and write and count and think critically. Books about gay penguins for 6 year olds is grooming.

— DMGPet (@DMGPet) June 8, 2023

I qualified in submarines in 1999 & still work in subs for the Navy.

With the last 24 hours of Twitter knowledge from “experts”, I think I now finally understand how frustrated doctors/nurses were in 2021 by vaccine experts, and how frustrated teachers are every day by Desantis

— Mike H – Subs (Virginias) and sports. (@mhbach97) June 20, 2023

Popular author and contributor to Wired magazine Steve Silberman was keen to draw a comparison with the gun situation in America:

This is what “grooming” really looks like.

It’s not kids reading about gay penguins at the library or learning that Rosa Parks was Black. It’s #GOP Rep. Andy Ogles of Nashville training his kids to love the machinery of mass slaughter. #NRA #GOP

— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) March 27, 2023

Meanwhile, in Belgium, a similar story has emerged:

In a Belgian zoo, 2 gay penguins adopt a child. So, it’s not “against the nature”

— Belgian NAFO 🇺🇦🇧🇪 (@belgiannafo) June 20, 2023

Back in Australia, a plan to include the relationship between male penguins Sphen and Magic in the New South Wales school curriculum has also been contentious:

Two gay penguins who successfully raised a chick together will help schoolchildren learn about same-sex relationships as part of a new syllabus aimed at kids from kindergarten to Year two.

The story of their original parenthood in October 2018 made news worldwide, including this item from ABC7 News Bay Area:

Prominent Australian conservative Lyle Shelton has suggested that Sydney’s Life Aquarium has been faking a romance between Sphen and Magic in an attempt to “indoctrinate children.” Empact News responded with this short video on Twitter:

Former Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Lyle Shelton, has accused gay penguins of ‘faking’ their relationship. #lyleshelton #shelton #penguins #lgbt #pride #gaypride #penguins #penguin #gaypenguins #samesex #marriage #conservative #liberalparty #australia #auspol

— Empact News (@EmpactNews) July 4, 2023

A similar issue arose recently in Trinidad and Tobago, where a local book dealer is selling a children’s book entitled “I am a Rainbow,” written by US LGBTQ+ advocate and social media star Mark Kanemura.