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Alabama Public TV stands its ground on decision to not show ‘Arthur’ gay wedding episode

Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug

May 21, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Last week’s season premier episode of PBS’ long-running animated kids’ show Arthur that featured a homosexual ‘wedding’ was replaced with a rerun of a previous episode by a local PBS affiliate in Alabama.

The decision has sparked criticism from not only gay advocates, but the creator of the series.  

In the preempted episode, Alabama’s young children — the show’s target audience is 4-8 year olds — would have witnessed Arthur’s third grade teacher, Mr. Ratburn, walk down the aisle with a male, a chocolatier named Patrick.

“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television (APT) for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” explained APT’s director of programming, Mike McKenzie, in a statement according to multiple news outlets.  

“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,” continued McKenzie. “We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for Arthur also watch the program.”

“The storyline about Mr. Ratburn’s marriage conveys a positive message that many parents feel is entirely appropriate,” said McKenzie. “Many other parents disagree, either because their children are too young, or because of their beliefs. The vast majority of parents will not have heard about the content, whether they agree with it or not, and our greatest concern was taking away these parents’ choice.”

The move provoked criticism from multiple sources.

Marc Brown, creator of the Arthur series, told People Magazine that he was “very disappointed” with APT’s decision.

“Why shouldn’t their teacher marry another man? We all know people who are gay, who are trans, and it’s something that is socially acceptable. Why is there this discomfort that it takes a leap into our national media?” continued Brown. “And we want children to be educated so they can see there’s not just one type of family. Everyone should feel represented. I think we did that with Arthur.”

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, better known as GLAAD, said APT’s refusal to air the episode was not only “mean spirited,” it’s a “losing battle.”

“With LGBTQ visibility at an all-time high on television, including in the Kids and Family Programming genre, this attack to censor content is not only mean-spirited, it’s a losing battle,” claimed GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement. “The uptick of LGBTQ characters and stories on kids TV shows has been met with praise from families of all kinds, and media need to put context to the extremely fringe anti-LGBTQ organizations and individuals who speak out against any inclusion.”  

GLAAD continued to express its displeasure with APT’s decision to nix the episode in an ongoing series of tweets.

The pro-gay organization started by accusing Mckinzie of being homophobic:  

“APT director of programming Mike McKenzie refused to broadcast an episode of Arthur that featured a gay couple getting married. This is homophobia, plain and simple.”   

GLAAD continued to press APT:

“All children and families deserve to see themselves represented on their favorite shows - including LGBTQ families. If the leadership of @APTV won’t serve the interests of all Alabama residents, it's time to find someone who can.”

“You can contact @APTV and let them know that LGBTQ families in Alabama deserve to see themselves represented.”

When efforts to push the Alabama Public Television affiliate to relent and broadcast the episode failed, GLAAD let it be known:

APT is refusing to air the Arthur episode featuring Mr. Ratburn's wedding.

In their most recent Tweet, GLAAD said:

“LGBTQ people exist in every part of life, so the claim that someone could be “too young” to know that LGBTQ people exist is absurd and sends a dangerous message to LGBTQ youth.”

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