Washington Post Targets Mother in Tangled Tango Reporting

In reporting on a banned book controversy in Loudoun County, Virginia, The Washington Post painted a bullseye on the back of a concerned parent who works for the Loudoun schools.

Using a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the Post discovered – and published – the name of the Loudoun parent whose complaint got And Tango Makes Three removed from Loudoun school library shelves.  The mother and her children are now exposed to ridicule, abuse and retaliation from Loudoun school administrators, teachers and leftwing activists.

The March 5 story, “School Board Seeks Say in Book Policy,” covered a months-long controversy over the children's book And Tango Makes Three, a story about two “gay” penguins and the egg they hatch. (For more on the book, click here.)  Parents around the country have objected to Tango because it indoctrinates grade schoolers in the homosexual agenda.

The book, which topped the American Library Association's list of banned or challenged books in 2006, was pulled from Loudoun County elementary school libraries after the parent complained, according to reporting the Post did in February.  In the March 5 story the Post reported that the school superintendent reviewed the decision to pull the book and determined that “the school system's policy on challenged library materials was not implemented correctly.”

The Post reported that the school board's Legislative and Policy Committee decided to change the board's book removal policy at a meeting also attended by the president of an activist group misleadingly named Mainstream Loudoun. Post reporters Cara McCoy and Arianne Aryanpur only identified the group as a “nonprofit organization.”  In fact Mainstream Loudoun is a leftist organization that proclaims on its Web site that it “opposes the political agenda of well-organized and well-funded religious/political right groups.”  

The Post story did not divulge who filed the FOIA request, but in a phone call to the Post CMI learned that Post blogger Erica Garman was behind the request.  The Post identified the woman as a teaching assistant in one of the Loudoun County schools, and noted she had children in the school system but not at the school where she worked and at which she filed the complaint about Tango.  The Post has posted the FOIA record online.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.