A Republican lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives is advocating the complete de-funding of PBS due to it airing an episode of the children’s television series Arthur that depicted a same-sex marriage earlier this year.
In the show, Arthur (an anthropomorphic anteater) and his friends attend the wedding of his teacher, Mr. Ratburn, who marries another male character on the show’s 22nd season premiere.
That was enough for Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado) to voice dissatisfaction about the programming.
“Enough is enough. Recent programming on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has offended many conservative and religious taxpayers who do not want the children inculcated with liberal viewpoints on sensitive topics,” Lamborn said, according to his congressional website.
He further suggested that Congress doesn’t have the constitutional authority to “subsidize media programming.”
Lamborn’s statement cited support he receives himself from various organizations, including the Family Research Council, a Southern Poverty Law Center-recognized hate group that frequently targets members of the LGBTQ community with vitriolic banter. Earlier this year, for example, the FRC went after Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Democratic contender for president, urging him to “repent” for being an openly (and married) gay man, LGBTQ Nation reported.
While some may lambast the need for paying for public broadcasting services like NPR or PBS, others have touted the tremendous services such programs have provided — including the late Fred Rogers, the man many grew up calling Mister Rogers.
In Congressional testimony from May of 1969, Rogers touted the important ways in which his program has helped children watching his program.
“This is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child, to help him realize that he is unique,” Rogers said back then. “I end the program by saying, ‘You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you, just the way you are.’ And I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health.”
Indeed, the visibility of LGBTQ characters in media does a great deal of good for many Americans’ mental health. It also helps those who are unfamiliar with such individuals get a better understanding of who they are and where they’re coming from.
“When people are able to see something represented, they are better able to understand and grasp who those people are, and this creates an important shift in the social consciousness to include people from a range of different backgrounds,” Dr. Jennifer O’Brien wrote in an article for Psychology Today.
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