Caroline Madden, ‘Doah Staff Writer
February 12, 2014
The Disney Channel recently achieved a milestone for children’s television. On Jan. 28, the popular Disney show “Good Luck Charlie” featured the first same sex couple in the channel’s history. The show is geared for children and pre-teens. In the episode, entitled “Down a Tree,” the parents, Amy and Bob, arrange a playdate for Charlie with her friend Taylor. The parents are confused as to the name of the mother, as they have both learned different ones. When they open the door, they realize that Taylor has two moms– Susan and Cheryl.
While LGBT awareness and children’s exposure to different family makeups is important, this has also been controversy. The conservative group One Million Moms were opposed to the episode, releasing a statement that “Disney should stick to entertaining, not pushing an agenda. Conservative families need to urge Disney to avoid controversial topics that children are far too young to comprehend. This is the last place a parent would expect their children to be confronted with topics that are too difficult for them to understand. Mature issues of this nature are being introduced too early and too soon, and it is extremely unnecessary.” A Disney spokesman responded to One Million Moms with the statement “The episode was developed to be relevant to kids and families around the world and to reflect themes of diversity and inclusiveness.” Disney also consulted child development experts and advisors while crafting the episode.
This is a huge step for the Disney Channel as well as children’s television programming. There have not been any out LGBT characters in children’s television shows. Some characters may be read as queer, but there are no out gay characters. The only other out LGBT characters in children’s media is Mitch from the 2012 film “Paranorman.” A hulking jock that one assumes is straight until he offhandedly mentions his boyfriend at the end.
It is hard enough raising LGBT awareness in children’s media without controversy, when adult’s entertainment has also drawn so much fire. Many conservative groups also criticized a Coke commercial during the Super Bowl that represented families of all kinds including LGBT ones.
We must commend Disney for bravely set a path that hopefully more Disney shows will follow, as well as other children’s television programming channels, such as Nickelodeon. Disney was took a risk by exposing children to LGBT characters, something that would not be without controversy. It is important to expose children to all different kinds of families- families that they themselves may even be a part of. Disney took a step to start paving the way for more LGBT characters in children’s media.