BERGER: A new cast of characters

Disney’s decision to introduce a same-sex couple in its programming should be celebrated

This past week Disney made headlines for introducing the first-ever gay couple on its channel.
In last Sunday’s episode of “Good Luck Charlie,” Charlie’s parents set up a family play date with Charlie’s new friend Taylor. Taylor arrives at the play date with two women who introduce themselves as Taylor’s mom and “other mom.”

Disney made a statement about the episode saying, “This particular story line was developed under the consultancy of child development experts and community advisers. Like all Disney Channel programming, it was developed to be relevant to kids and families around the world and to reflect themes of diversity and inclusiveness.”

Despite this statement, the group One Million Moms has turned against Disney, disagreeing with the networks’ decision and calling it “completely uncalled for.”

On its website, One Million Moms describes its goal to “…stand against the immorality, violence, vulgarity and profanity the entertainment media is throwing at your children.” However, the inclusion of a gay couple on a Disney show is none of those things. A lesbian couple with a preschool-aged child is not immoral, violent, vulgar or profane; it is simply a different type of family. It is perhaps unconventional — especially on children’s networks — but definitely not inappropriate.

Yet the group One Million Moms continues to complain, saying, “Disney decided to be politically correct versus providing family-friendly programming… Conservative families need to urge Disney to exclude confusing 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 complicated for them to understand…”

What exactly does “family-friendly” mean? Does it mean a show starring a two-parent heterosexual family? That rarely exists on Disney channel. Growing up, my favorite Disney shows were “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “Hannah Montana.” In the “Suite Life” the parents were divorced — and not pleasantly, I might add. The father was an unambitious musician and the mother was a hard-working single mother with two children to care for. She did not get along well with her ex-husband, and many episodes dealt with the difficulty of having divorced parents. In Hannah Montana, Hannah’s mother was dead. We only ever saw her mother in Hannah’s dream sequences, where her mom would come back to give her advice. If that’s not confusing to children, I don’t know what is.

What I do know is that a lesbian couple should not be treated as an anomaly on Disney, considering the other confusing familial situations that are portrayed. Gay parents are just another type of family, and because homosexuality is becoming more prevalent in today’s world, Disney believed it made sense to introduce a same-sex couple. And it does. I do not want to hear about how it is “too complicated” or “confusing,” or how viewers are “far too young to comprehend.” If a child can comprehend a single family household, a divorce situation and the death of a parent on television, then a child can handle seeing a same-sex couple.

One Million Moms seems to vehemently oppose this idea and has asked people to take action: “Please send Disney an email letter requesting they omit the scene in “Good Luck Charlie” featuring two moms… If producers keep this episode as originally planned, then conservative families will have no choice but to no longer watch Disney Channel Network in their homes so they can avoid the previews, commercials and reruns for this irresponsible episode.”

What is irresponsible is thinking that seeing a gay couple is any more confusing for children than seeing a divorced couple or a widowed parent, which are already very common on the Disney channel. Teaching children about unfamiliar things, such as gay or lesbian couples, won’t necessarily cause them to condone them, but will give them the opportunity to make that choice for themselves. One Million Moms does not really stand for family values, because if they did they would understand the importance of teaching children about respect, love, acceptance and independent thinking, especially as they relates to the diverse family situations that exist in today’s world.

Meredith Berger is an Opinion columnist for The Cavalier Daily. Her columns run Mondays.

Published February 2, 2014 in Opinion

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