Adults these days have grown accustomed to seeing a higher percentage of gay and transgender characters in their entertainment than are actually represented in the population. But few people expect to find them in shows for kids so young they haven’t even headed off to kindergarten yet.
GLAAD has long had a Hollywood lobbying arm that consults with networks and studios on how to work LGBTQ characters into storylines, and productions for children are no exception. The advocacy group’s efforts, combined with general social pressure, are paying major dividends, even in series for the littlest audiences.
Here are six preschool shows unwary parents may not realize champion LGBTQ ideology:
Blues Clues (Nickelodeon): Parents have long parked their toddlers in front of the cute little blue pup and his catchy tunes to grab a half hour of personal time. So they might have missed that the latest reboot of the original series, “Blues Clues and You,” features a new song — “The ABC Song with Blue!” The ditty, which debuted in February, follows the familiar preschool pattern of assigning words to letters in the alphabet to teach kiddos sounds. It’s when the song gets to the letter “P” that things get surprising.
“P is full of pride,” Blue sings to the children as a large capital P, striped in the rainbow colors of the LGBTQ flag, dances on the screen. To further drive home the point, an animated illustration of flags representing transgenderism, asexuality, pansexuality, intersexuality, and gender-fluidity, encircle the letter.
That same month, the network sent out a tweet that seemed to imply a cartoon popular with slightly older kids —Spongebob Squarepants — may be gay.
Arthur (PBS): In 2019, the award-winning series kicked off its 22nd season with a gay wedding. Little aardvark Arthur and his friends spend the episode, titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” trying to find out which lucky lady will be the bride of their beloved third grade teacher. The end of the show reveals why their sleuthing has been unsuccessful — Mr. Ratburn is marrying a male chocolatier. “Mr. Ratburn is married, I still can’t believe it,” Arthur says at the end. “Yup, it’s a brand-new world,” his friend responds.
“PBS Kids programs are designed to reflect the diversity of communities across the nation,” PBS spokeswoman Maria Vera Whelan said in a statement addressing the controversy that ensued. “We believe it is important to represent the wide array of adults in the lives of children who look to PBS Kids every day.”
Doc McStuffins (Disney Jr.): The series may be targeted at children aged 2 to 5, but in 2017 an episode featured a lesbian couple voiced by actresses Portia De Rossi and Wanda Sykes. Loosely sticking to the overall premise of the show in which a young girl nurses sick toys to health, Doc helps two dolls find their lost children after an earthquake. McStuffins’ gay creator and executive producer, Chris Nee, told the lesbian-oriented news site After Ellen, “I want to create characters who are incredibly accepting of each other and whatever is happening in their life.”
My Little Pony (Discovery Family): Though a strange subculture of adult fans has grown up around the highly rated Pony series, “Friendship is Magic,” the show’s main demographic is still the youngest set. Thus, it shocked plenty of parents when a 2019 episode timed for Pride Month outed two characters. In “The Last Crusade,” the final episode of the season, the show reveals that ponies Aunt Holiday and Auntie Lofty aren’t just roommates, they’re romantically involved. The big moment comes when Holiday kisses Lofty on the forehead and calls her, “dear.”
“[Co-showrunner] Nicole [Dubuc] and I thought this was a great opportunity to organically introduce an LGBTQ couple in the series, and we asked Hasbro and they approved it,” writer and producer Michael Vogel told Buzzfeed at the time.
Hey Duggee (Nick Jr.): Similar to other vignette-style series like “Peppa Pig” and “Bluey,” Hey Duggee’s brightly-colored, seven-minute episodes are perfect for distracting tots during a quick drive to the store or park. So it’s understandable that most adults missed the British import’s low-profile introduction of two gay crabs. In 2015’s “The Sandcastle Badge,” the Squirrel Club (a boy-scout-like troupe of young animals) earn badges by building a sandy house for Mr. Crab and his partner, Nigel.
“It would be disingenuous to say that we didn’t think about inclusivity,” creator Grant Orchard told The Guardian last year, “but we didn’t want to be preachy with it.”
The Bravest Knight (HULU): Clearly 2019 was the tipping point for LGBTQ children’s programming. The series about pumpkin farmer Sir Cedric (Grey’s Anatomy’s T.R. Knight) and his husband Prince Andrew (Star Trek Discovery’s Wilson Cruz) debuted on the streaming giant in June that year. Together, the dads help their daughter, Nia, learn how to be a knight. Cruz told the Associated Press at the time, “We’re not explaining homosexuality, or same-gender sexuality. We’re talking about the love of a family.”
Megan Basham (@megbasham) is the entertainment reporter for The Daily Wire. She’s a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic who was previously an entertainment editor and podcast co-host for World Magazine.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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