The New York Times’ Julie Salmon writes about PBS’ latest headache ; an outcry over a kiddie show’s benign attempts to show that lesbian moms aren’t from outer space.
For adults, the fuss over a PBS children’s television show featuring an animated bunny – and real lesbian mothers – was nothing new. But for Emma Riesner, 11, who was supposed to be a star of the now-controversial episode of “Postcards From Buster,” what began as a participatory social studies lesson has become a harsh lesson in exclusionary politics.
“I was pretty upset when the show was canceled, because I was very excited about it,” Emma said in a telephone interview from her home in Vermont. “I know some people don’t like gays and lesbians because they think they are bad people. That’s just a stereotype and it’s kind of hurtful. I don’t think people should think of us as very different. We are just the same except we have two moms.”
PBS decided last week not to distribute the program to about 350 stations amid objections from various quarters, including a strongly worded disapproval from the new education secretary, Margaret Spellings. Since then, 39 stations have acquired the rights to the episode from WGBH-TV in Boston, which produced the series.
The flap over “Buster” highlights what television schedules make apparent: while gays may be acceptable on television in the evening, children with same-sex parents are not very welcome in Mr. Rogers’ old neighborhood.
“We don’t want to violate the trust parents have with us,” said Allan Pizzato, executive director of Alabama Public Television, explaining why he wouldn’t have shown the program even if PBS had distributed it. “Parents can make the decision about when they want to talk about lesbian parents. If PBS sent a program down that said there was no Santa Claus, I wouldn’t air that one either. Parents should make that decision, too.”
I really don’t get the analogy. I’m no Dr. Spock, but there are good, practical reasons for kids to know that some of their peers have two moms, two dads, etc., and simply showing what happens in someone else’s househould isn’t a form of advocacy. And there isn’t any Santa Claus, either.