In recent news, there has been a lot of talk about what's going on in children's TV shows. "Sesame Street" added Karli, a character with "for-now parents" that is in foster care and explains to Elmo what that means in a touching scene that legitimately made me want to cry. It also wasn't too long ago that the live-action "Beauty and the Beast" featured gay characters in a first for Disney. All of these things are so important for kids to be viewing in regular movies and TV but come with their fair amount of backlash.
The most recent children's program receiving large amounts of backlash is "Arthur." The "Arthur" season premiere featured Arthur's teacher, Mr. Ratburn getting married to another man. There's nothing else remotely controversial featured on the episode, but the idea that TV is trying to "teach" an LGBTQ+ lifestyle to children has led states like Alabama to ban the episode from airing in the state.
The normalization of gay marriage and gay couples is so important for kids to start seeing as soon as possible and the idea that Alabama thinks it's wrong is much more wrong.
Adding Karli to "Sesame Street" gives children in foster care an ally that knows exactly what they're going through. It makes children in foster care feel represented and not alone, and it shows kids not in foster care that those in foster care are normal kids just like them. It normalizes the idea of foster care and welcomes the idea into the minds of children so that when they encounter a friend in foster care, it isn't some anomaly to look at weird. It's just like Karli who has her for-now parents who take care of her in place of her mom. Nothing out of the ordinary, kids already have a friendly character to base their experiences off of.
If we want to move toward a more open and accepting society, we need to get the younger generations on board.
They're our future and with shows like "Arthur" moving toward openness and representation, they're exposed to ideas that it's okay to love whoever you love no matter what. Kids are less likely to think it's out of the ordinary for two men or two women or nonbinary people to be in love with one another. I hope for a world where an episode like this isn't news, it's just the norm. This is precisely the moves we need to be making with the media. This promotes acceptance for those of all sexualities and helps kids feel represented with their own family situation or even their own sexuality. Like with Karli, this also helps them to understand all different kinds of people and when they encounter the LGBTQ+ community in their own lives, they have a friendly teacher from "Arthur" to better understand where the people in their lives are coming from.
If we start normalizing the LGBTQ+ community, foster care, learning disabilities ("Arthur" has tackled this as well), and all sorts of other things that are normal parts of people's lives for kids, the world can easily become a more accepting place for people in all walks of life. It's attitudes like the people in power in Alabama that continues to perpetuate attitudes of hatred and alienation that is the exact opposite of what we need to be teaching our children. Love, not hate always.