Gay marriage and children’s cartoons evidently do not mix in Alabama.
Last week, Alabama Public Television refused to air the Season 22 premiere of the long-running cartoon series “Arthur.” The episode, titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” featured the elementary school teacher marrying his gay partner.
Mike McKenzie, director of programming for Alabama Public Television, said the decision was made to uphold the values of those who allow APT into their homes.
“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” McKenzie said, according to Al.com.
“More importantly – although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterwards – parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision. We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for Arthur also watch the program,” he said.
APT will not broadcast the episode, McKenzie said.
The Western Journal has reached out to APT for comment but has not yet received a response.
McKenzie said that although the story about the marriage of the character Mr. Ratburn had a positive message, it was not for everyone, CNN reported.
“Our broadcast would take away the choice of parents who feel it is inappropriate,” McKenzie said in a statement, CNN reported. He also said that some parents would not want the show in their homes “either because their children are too young, or because of their beliefs.”
McKenzie told NBC that APT did not want to surprise Alabama parents with what their children were seeing. “The vast majority of parents will not have heard about the content, whether they agree with it or not,” he said. “Because of this, we felt it would be a violation of trust to broadcast the episode.”
APT’s actions were fodder for debate on Twitter.
Prohibiting children from seeing LGBTQ+ characters because it requires “supervision” promotes bigotry and doesn’t serve the public like public television should. LGBTQ+ families are part of the public too and deserve to be treated with respect not hate. https://t.co/A9ShyoJDxK
— Jason Gallaher 💃🏼 (@DraftingJason) May 21, 2019
Alabama does the right thing by not confusing children. Alabama Public Television refuses to air “Arthur” episode with same-sex marriage of Mr. Ratburn on PBS – CBS News https://t.co/r2uS5qLfKa
— FriscoKid (@FriscoVince) May 21, 2019
Pro-tip for @APTV: If your position is that children need to have parental supervision in order to see a gay wedding in a cartoon, you are telegraphing a dangerous message to #lgbtq youth. You must reverse this ridiculous decision https://t.co/3WRAoFo3wo
— Zeke Stokes (@zekestokes) May 21, 2019
PBS and the show’s creator defended the episode.
“PBS Kids programs are designed to reflect the diversity of communities across the nation,” PBS Kids spokeswoman Maria Vera Whelan said. “We believe it is important to represent the wide array of adults in the lives of children who look to PBS Kids every day.”
Marc Brown, the show’s creator, said the show had a responsibility that it fulfilled with the episode. “So many of us have family or friends who are gay who are not represented in the media. We have people in our family that are gay and raising children and looking for things to validate their families,” he said.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation criticized APT.
“TV worlds often reflect our actual world and today that includes LGBTQ parents and families,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement.
“LGBTQ parents and their children deserve to see themselves reflected in media, and if leadership of this public broadcasting station cannot serve the interests of the entire public, it’s time to find someone who can.”
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