GLBTQ representation on children's television : an analysis of news coverage and cultural conservatism

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Date

2015-05

Authors

Mayer, Christopher John

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Abstract

The invisibility of GLBTQ characters on children's television stands in stark contrast to trends in adolescent and adult television over the past decade. A deep cultural ambivalence exists as to whether or not sexual identities are appropriate topics for young children on preschool television programming. For example, a marriage between Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie has been the topic of many petitions, political debates, and academic studies over the years. This analysis seeks to reconcile the cultural ambivalence through analysis of news coverage over the most prominent children's shows associated with latent and/or manifest GLBTQ content. New stories that make up the research sample are analyzed for "Anti-GLBTQ" logics, and placed in a broader discourse analysis of societal expectations for children’s television, and what is considered to be appropriate content. The goal of this study is to draw greater attention to debates over how to best serve the educational needs of young children, and posits that the increasing numbers of children living under same-sex parented households are underserved by the children's television industry. The ambivalence by the industry seems suspect given prior, and well established efforts, of children’s shows, such as Sesame Street, and the ability of educational programming to bridge cultural, class, and racial divides. This study represents a preliminary effort to extend the conversations about children’s television content to be more inclusive of GLBTQ identities.

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