Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Lesbian Moms Normalized on the Disney Channel

Sunday, television history was made as a gay couple appeared for the first time on a network that targets children viewers. The Disney Channel's sitcom Good Luck Charlie introduced a lesbian couple as the parents of one of toddler Charlie's playmates.

Except for the bit of history it makes, the scene was completely unremarkable.  Charlie's parents disagree over what is the name of "Taylor's mom", and this confusion is worked out when Taylor shows up with two moms.

And that's it. No awkwardness over the fact that they are a lesbian couple. No jokes that expose underlying prejudice or ignorance. Just, "Ohhh, Taylor has two moms," and life goes on. It is refreshing and wonderful in its normalcy.

This scene is exactly what one would expect from writers who have been instructed to make the show inclusive to LGBT families without addressing any controversies. It is a fair, responsible, and probably overdue form of inclusion if we consider that millions of American kids have LGBT parents, and at least half a million are being raised by lesbian and gay couples. (Numbers based on the 2012 Census.)

My kids don't need to watch LGBT inclusive television because they've lived these sort of scenes. We have friends and relatives who are gay couples, so it's kind of impossible to hide from our kids (not that we would.) And just today, in my 2-year-old's Gymfoolery class, twins showed up with their two moms. Then again, I live in a neighborhood known for its diversity and inclusiveness.

Sadly, religious fundamentalism disguised as family values is still alive and well in America, and dissenters will continue to taint these small human rights victories. We see it in this statement released by One Million Moms, which states:
Disney should stick to entertaining instead of pushing an agenda. Disney decided to be politically correct versus providing family-friendly programming. Disney has a choice whether to produce a program with certain fictional characters; the storyline could be re-written or changed. Conservative families need to urge Disney to exclude confusing topics that children are far too young to comprehend.
First of all, the Disney Channel needs some kind of agenda because they are taking on a certain amount of responsibility in creating entertainment for children. The Disney Channel has opted for an agenda that is not only inclusive, but in line with current shifts in mainstream values.

Then there's the old line about kids being "too young" to learn that *gasp* gay people exist! It's too "confusing" a topic for them to understand.

I've encountered this sentiment a lot in real life and online. Even the comments under After Ellen's article about this story includes:
i am 100 percent against this and i hate that they did this without some type of warning to the parents

And how about this breathtaking piece of cognitive dissonance:

We have loved this show since it started! although i am not against same sex parents, I however am outraged that they introduced them to our children without some sort of parental warning. when i decide to explain the different family matrix to my 9 year old it will be on my time and not by "Good Luck Charlie". I am now glad that the finale is coming because in my opinion this show will need some....

Implicit in such statements are that gay people should be in the closet whenever they are around other peoples' children, which is just cruel and absurd.

People who want to shield their kids from gays on television don't care that the real-world equivalents of Taylor's moms often seek out gay-friendly neighborhoods so they can avoid their kids losing friends, being mercilessly teased, or even beaten if they accidentally refer to their "moms" or "dads" at school. To such families, this small gesture of inclusiveness from a giant in children's entertainment offers a bright view of how far we've come, and where we're headed as a society.

To all those Nimbies out there, who claim to be tolerant of social change, but only if it's happening nowhere near them, so sorry if making LGBT families feel normal means you have to have an awkward conversation with your kid. No, wait, I'm not sorry.

Explaining homosexuality to little kids isn't complicated unless you make it complicated. Just say this:
You know how a man and a woman such as (name ANY happily married straight couple the kid knows) can fall in love, get married, and have kids? Well sometimes that happens with two men or two women, too. 
See how simple that is? It's almost verbatim what I told my kids as soon as they could talk.

If saying that makes you too squeamish, you have your mind in the gutter. It's your problem, not the Disney Channel's. Grow up and be more decent to your fellow human beings, because one of these days your kid might make a friend with two moms.

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