Cartoon canine waves the LGBT flag
Blue’s Clues reboot affirms a smorgasbord of sexualities
A popular animated preschool show has hopped on the bandwagon of children’s programs intent on normalizing LGBT behavior.
Blue’s Clues and You! on the cable channel Nick Jr. introduced a new alphabet song last week. After “O, is outstanding, one of a kind,” a happy female voice declared, “P is full of pride” as a rainbow P representing the LGBT flag swayed on the screen next to Blue, the canine star of the show. Flags representing transgenderism, asexuality, pansexuality, gender fluidity, and other alternative sexual orientations waved around the pup.
California mom Desirée Keoshian’s almost-3-year-old daughter loves watching Blue’s Clues and You! The show is a reboot of the award-winning children’s series that ran from 1996 to 2006. Keoshian’s little girl engages with the show’s characters to learn more about things like shapes, colors, and letters. She also plays with a stuffed toy of Blue.
Keoshian was disappointed and concerned to learn of the show’s new alphabet song’s subtle insertion. “That’s really young for that kind of thing,” she said. “They’re trying to make it normal for kids.” She said she and her husband want to be the ones bringing up difficult topics with their daughter: “No matter how hard we try to protect our children, all this is out there. But we want to be able to talk about it first when we feel it’s the right time.”
The target audience for LGBT programming has gotten younger and younger in recent years. In 2017, the Disney Channel’s Doc McStuffins, created for children ages 2-5, drew condemnation from some Christians, including the group One Million Moms, for including lesbian parents in one episode. McStuffins creator and executive producer Chris Nee, as well as the actresses who voiced the couple, are openly lesbian.
Nee told AfterEllen, an entertainment website geared toward lesbian and bisexual women, she wanted to instill subtle messages about LGBT acceptance in her work.
In 2019, the PBS cartoon Arthur, based on a bestselling series of children’s books about a school-aged aardvark, caused a national stir when it opened its 22nd season with a story about a wedding between the children’s third grade teacher, Mr. Ratburn, and a male aardvark. Alabama Public Television refused to run the episode. Programming director Mike McKenzie said he made the decision out of concern that parents who did not know about the content might unintentionally expose their children to material they deemed inappropriate. PBS defended its programming, saying it meant for its children’s shows to reflect diverse communities across the nation.
The same year, the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic had an episode with a lesbian horse, and last year, Disney Junior’s animated series T.O.T.S., featured a two-mom couple of dolphins. (Of note, penguins and flamingos have been observed in same-sex parenting duos in nature.)
A year and a half ago, Zeke Stokes, an executive with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), said more LGBT writers and producers are filling influential positions in the film and TV industry. He added that GLAAD works behind the scenes to promote LGBT representation, sometimes by encouraging people to contact shows.