Over the years, television and film creators have learned that families and communities are more diverse than the ones that were shown in the past. So, they have worked hard to bring more diversity to both the big and small screens. Now, adults and children alike are able to watch shows and movies that show all different kinds of people and families — from interracial ones to ones with just one parent, and ones with two parents of the same gender. While many see that as a big step forward, some see it as a problem.
A group of Republican Senators recently sent a letter to the Chairman of the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board. In their letter, the Senators asked the Monitoring Board to add a warning to certain children’s programming that features LGBTQ+ content.
Sexually-related content not only negatively influences and exploits its young audiences, but also harms child actors. Time and again, child actors from major children’s TV channels, including Disney, have revealed trauma from being sexualized at an early age. Considering that the cognitive markers of sexual desire emerge during puberty when adolescents undergo natural hormonal and physiological changes, it is wholly inappropriate to display this content in a TV-Y7 category and for other young audiences. This dialogue often involves the promotion of irreversible experimental treatments that involve surgical and otherwise invasive cosmetic procedures that are detrimental and life-altering, and do not evidence medical necessity. The motivations of hyper- sexualized entertainment producers striving to push this content on young audiences are suspect at best and predatory at worst.
The letter states that a program that is rated TV-G means that there will be “no sexual dialogue or situations.” These Senators claim that by showing LGBTQ+ characters and couples or possibly transgender characters, the program is no longer appropriate for a G rating. Throughout the letter, Disney is frequently mentioned because the company has stated a desire to feature more LGBTQ+ characters in their films and television shows.
Recently, a video emerged showing a prominent executive at children’s entertainment giant Disney saying she supports having “many, many, many LGBTQIA+ characters in our stories.”3 To the detriment of children, gender dysphoria has become sensationalized in the popular media and television with radical activists and entertainment companies. This radical and sexual sensation not only harms children, but also destabilizes and damages parental rights. This same company has concerningly denounced and vowed to work to repeal a recently passed Florida parental rights law that bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Sexual orientation and gender identity instruction often entails a discussion concerning an individual’s pattern of emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction. Parents all over the country have rightfully expressed outrage over its inclusion in the classroom.
After the letter went public, a GLAAD spokesperson released a statement, condemning the bill. GLAAD stands for Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The statement says, in part:
“LGBTQ people are in every family, workplace, school and neighborhood. Media is simply reflecting and representing this reality and growing acceptance of LGBTQ people across the board. An overwhelming majority of Americans reject efforts to ban books and censor conversation.”
The letter comes on the heels of The Walt Disney Company and the state of Florida being at odds over the Parental Rights in Education bill. The bill — which was recently signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — will prohibit educators from talking about subjects like sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K through 3. Critics of the bill have said that it will unfairly target the LGBTQ+ community. Disney has spoken out against the bill and said that it will work to see it repealed.
The Senators responsible for the letter have requested a response from the Board no later than May 18. The Senators have also requested an in-person briefing to go over the plan. The TV Monitoring Board has not publicly responded to the letter at this time.
You can read the complete letter by clicking here.