Are there any warnings about LGBTQ content in children’s shows? Senator Mike Lee wants them
Utah Sen. Mike Lee and four fellow Republicans are calling for a new television rating so parents can prevent their children from watching “disturbing content” including LGBTQ characters.
In a letter last week to the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board, the senators urged the committee to update its warning label system to better inform parents about “mature” topics before they are presented to their children.
“In light of parents raising legitimate concerns about sexual orientation and gender identity content in children’s television programming, we expect the council to fulfill its responsibility by updating the television parental guidelines to reflect these concerns,” the letter reads.
“In recent years, topics of a sexual nature have become aggressively politicized and promoted in children’s programs, including irreversible and harmful experimental treatments for mental disorders like gender dysphoria.”
The letter references a recent video showing an executive at children’s entertainment giant Disney saying she says she has “many, many, many LGBTQIA+ characters in our stories.”
The comments from Disney General Entertainment President Karey Burke were part of a virtual discussion about Disney’s “Reimagine Tomorrow” campaign.
Noting that she is the mother of a transgender child and a pansexual child, her full quote was, “We have many, many, many LGBTQIA+ characters in our stories and yet we don’t have enough leads and stories in which gay characters just become characters and don’t have to talk about gay stories.
Burke’s remarks also came as Disney opposed a new Florida law that bans classroom teaching and discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in some elementary school classrooms – also known by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Florida responded by revoking a 55-year-old agreement that gave Disney special tax status and allowed the company to essentially self-manage its 25,000-acre Disney World resort.
The GOP senators say in the letter that to the detriment of children, gender dysphoria has gone viral in popular media and television with radical activists and entertainment companies.
“This radical and sexual sensation not only harms children, but also destabilizes and infringes on parental rights,” according to the letter.
State Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, said in a statement Monday that labeling a gay character on a TV show “disturbing content” is divisive, cruel and unacceptable.
“As the only open LGBTQ+ member of the Utah Legislative Assembly, does Senator Mike Lee want to put a warning label on my debates in the Senate? Does the senator want to put a warning label in front of my restaurant or my campaign office? Kitchen said.
The LGBTQ+ community, he said, is not a “political punching bag.”
“We are people, and we’ve had enough of this offensive antics,” Kitchen said. “Mike Lee wants to put a warning on love. He wants to put a warning on people who express themselves freely.
Seeing all kinds of characters, from same-sex parents to transgender kids, onscreen is critical for kids, Jessica Dummar, co-CEO of the Utah Pride Center, told Fox 13.
“Families do exist, and one is no better than another,” she said. “Some of these shows my kids watch, and I know they love seeing LGBTQ represented in kids’ shows. They’re so excited because I have kids who are in our community, and I want them to know that it’s okay to love yourself, no matter how loving you are, and that no part of yourself is obscene.
Dummar told Fox 13 that if the shows were to have warnings, parents might not let their kids watch them. They may never see themselves portrayed on screen, and especially here in Utah, the media can help people of all ages come to terms with and understand their own identity, she said.
The TV Oversight Committee is required to ensure the ratings criteria help parents know about mature content before it is shown to their children, the senator wrote.
“When updating the TV Parental Guidelines, please consider precedents on how the council has assessed sexual, violent and obscene content to ensure they are applied without ideological bias” , indicates the letter.
Lee and Sens. Roger Marshall of Kansas, Mike Braun of Indiana, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, and Steve Daines of Montana want a response from the board by May 18 as well as an in-person meeting.