Justin Richardson

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Justin Richardson is an American author and psychiatrist best known for co-authoring And Tango Makes Three with Peter Parnell.

Richardson was profiled in the New York Times is 1997 in an article entitled “Elite Schools Face the Gay Issue.”[1] The article detailed his work with numerous New York independent schools (Trinity, Dalton, Brearley, and Spence are mentioned), speaking to teachers, students and parents about sexual orientation development in children and teens. “Dr. Richardson,” the author wrote,”-- pedigreed, carefully spoken, determinedly nonthreatening -- has become the schools' gay issues consultant of choice. ‘He's so sane, and he's so clear,’ said Edes Gilbert, the head of Spence.”[1]

According to the New York Times, Richardson and pediatrician Mark Schuster M.D. Ph.D. were inspired by a parent’s question at one of these schools to write their book Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid They’d Ask) (Crown, 2003).[2] "How can I teach my daughter to have a healthy attitude toward sex,” the father had asked, “but prevent her from having any?" Publishers Weekly wrote that the authors “bring extraordinary expertise and scintillating intelligence to this guide to coping with a child's sexual maturation. Acknowledging that kids are""inherently sexual"" (male fetuses, for example, have erections in utero), the authors show how parents can influence their children's sexual development in healthy ways through honest communication. With this forthright and reassuring volume, the Richardson and Schuster prove themselves models of that skill.”[3]

Subsequent to the publication of the book, Richardson made numerous appearances as an expert on the Today Show,[4] Good Morning America,[5][6] 20/20,[7][8][9] and CNN.[10] His advice to parents appeared in the New York Times,[11][12] Newsweek,[13][14] and on NPR’s Morning Edition.[15]

In 2005, Richardson and his partner, the American playwright Peter Parnell, published their first children’s book, And Tango Makes Three (Simon and Schuster). The book tells the true story of two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo who pair-bonded, built a nest, and together hatched an egg. On its publication, The New York Times wrote, "And Tango Makes Three is bound to raise eyebrows, but for those of us eager to encourage our children to include, rather than exclude, it's a welcome addition to the library of families. The well-written, perfectly paced text is delivered with a deft touch by the collaborative team of Justin Richardson… and Peter Parnell.”

The book received several awards, including the American Library Association Notable Book award[16] and the ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award.[17] However, one year after its publication, it became the single most banned or challenged book in the United States. According to the American Library Association, Tango was the most banned book in the Country for the years 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010. (It was number 2 in 2009 and number 5 in 2012).[18][19][20][21][22][23]

Parnell and Richardson also later collaborated on Christian, the Hugging Lion(Simon & Schuster), a children's picture book about the true story of Christian the lion.

In later years Richardson was the psychiatric advisor for the second and third season of the HBO series In Treatment starring Gabriel Byrne.[24][25]

Richardson was born in Greenwich Village in 1963 and grew up in Rockland County, NY.[1] He received his undergraduate, graduate, and medical degrees from Harvard.[1] He was Chief Resident in Psychiatry at Harvard’s McLean Hospital before joining the faculty of Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons.[1] He lives in Greenwich Village with Parnell and their daughter.[26]


  1. ^ a b c d e ELISABETH BUMILLERPublished: June 13, 1997 (1997-06-13). "Same-Sex Academies Grapple With Parents' Concerns - New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  2. ^ John LangonePublished: August 26, 2003 (2003-08-26). "BOOKS ON HEALTH; Birds, Bees and More - New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  3. ^ "Nonfiction Book Review: Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know about Sex (But Were Afraid They'd Ask): The Secrets to Surviving Your Child's Sexual Development from Bi by Justin Richardson, Author, Mark Schuster, Author, Mark A. Schuster, Joint Author Crown Publishers $25 (400p) ISBN 978-0-8129-3157-0". Publishersweekly.com. 2003-02-01. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  4. ^ "Talking to your kids about sex - today > books". TODAY.com. 2003-12-06. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  7. ^ ABC News Transcripts November 5, 2004 Friday SHOW: 20 / 20 (10:00 PM ET)
  8. ^ ABC News Transcripts March 22, 2004 Monday SHOW: 20 / 20 (10:00 PM ET) - ABC
  9. ^ Stossel, John (2008-03-07). "John Stossel of ABC News quotes Richardson as an expert". Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  10. ^ June 27, 2007 Wednesday SHOW: PAULA ZAHN NOW 8:00 PM EST Homosexuality: Nature or Nurture?
  11. ^ "Parents Are Always Teaching About Sex, Sometimes Accidentally - Room for Debate". NYTimes.com. 2013-05-07. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  12. ^ Kantor, Jodi (2005-11-17). "Sex Ed for the Stroller Set". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ Newsweek May 31, 2004 U.S. Edition Family: A Reason To Wait BYLINE: Pat Wingert SECTION: TIP SHEET; Pg. 76
  14. ^ Newsweek April 25, 2005 U.S. Edition Beyond the Birds and Bees BYLINE: By Karen Springen SECTION: COVER STORY: HEALTH FOR LIFE; Pg. 61
  15. ^ "Teen Sexual Behavior - Part III". NPR. 2003-05-22. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  16. ^ "2006 Notable Children's Books | Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)". Ala.org. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  17. ^ The Salt Lake Tribune Award honors children's books about animals, kindness All ages will enjoy reading By Judy Magid Published July 31, 2006
  18. ^ The Christian Science Monitor April 12, 2011 Tuesday 10 most frequently challenged books of 2010
  19. ^ Washington Post September 4, 2011 Sunday Every Edition ... the gay penguins? BYLINE: Michael Alison Chandler SECTION: MAGAZINE; Pg. A03
  20. ^ Bosman, Julie (2013-04-15). "Library Group Lists Frequently Challenged Books". The New York Times. 
  21. ^ Gewen, Barry (2008-10-01). "What Are You Doing for Banned Books Week?". The New York Times. 
  22. ^ New, The (2007-08-30). "ARTS, BRIEFLY - Paternal Penguins Pique Parents - Brief - NYTimes.com". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  23. ^ "And Tango Makes Three tops ALA's 2006 list of most challenged books". American Library Association. 2007-03-06. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 
  24. ^ "PsychiatryOnline | Psychiatric News | News Article". Psychnews.psychiatryonline.org. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  25. ^ "In Treatment: Interview with Dan Futterman". HBO. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  26. ^ "A Baby for the Gay Authors Behind the Daddy Penguins". The New York Times, October 2, 2009.