Alabama Public Television has pulled an episode of the PBS children’s show Arthur, featuring a same-sex wedding between an animated rat and his aardvark partner, amid concerns it would “violate” the trust of audiences.
- The episode in which Arthur attends the wedding of his teacher and partner aired nationally on May 13
- Alabama Public Television said the station would not air the episode because parents would not be familiar with its content
- The decision has been labelled “mean-spirited” by LGBTQI advocates
The episode, Mr Ratburn and the Special Someone, aired nationally on May 13, and showed Arthur attending the wedding of his teacher and partner.
The nuptials garnered international headlines, with some praising the portrayal of LGBTQI characters in children’s television.
However, the decision has also divided audiences.
APT director of programming Mike Mckenzie said the station would not air the episode because the “vast majority” of parents would not be familiar with its content.
“Although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterwards… parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision,” Mr Mckenzie told NBC.
“The vast majority of parents will not have heard about the content, whether they agree with it or not.
“Because of this, we felt it would be a violation of trust to broadcast the episode.”
The move has sparked an online backlash, with GLAAD — the media advocacy group for LGBTQI people — labelling it “mean-spirited” and an “attack to censor content”.
Alabama parent and teacher Misty Souder told AL.com she was disappointed the episode would not go to air.
“There’s too much going on not to stand up for stuff, even if it’s Arthur,” she said.
“I never thought I’d be going to battle for a gay rat wedding, but here we are.”
The station in 2005 pulled an episode of Arthur in which the character Buster met a girl with two mothers.
“Our feeling is that we basically have a trust with parents about our programming,” then-executive director Allan Pizzato told AL.com at the time.
“This program doesn’t fit into that.”