In particular, what offended Stitt about all of these programs was LGBTQ-inclusive programming. By which, Stitt doesn’t mean that anyone on these programs is having sex, talking about sex, or conducting a Gay Pride parade. What he means is that there are characters on these programs who are shown in situations that suggest they may be gay.
To be absolutely clear: Stitt is vetoing the bill because educational television admits gay people exist.
It’s not clear which characters offended Stitt’s very discerning gaze. Was it Bert and Ernie? Is Daniel Tiger under suspicion? In any case, because the state uses a single station that is broadcast to each of the state’s 77 counties, vetoing funding for the state’s single PBS station means that every single child in Oklahoma is about to lose their one source of free educational television.
Writing in an editorial—notably in The Christian Post—Stitt cited a single incident of (what else?) a drag queen reading a children’s book on a program called Let’s Learn in 2021. He was also offended by the 2019 same sex wedding of a rat and a … I’m going to say hamster? … on the program Arthur. He also cites a same sex wedding on the math instructional program Odd Squad—a wedding that exists entirely in the form of the main characters running past two women who are both wearing wedding gowns and urging these two nameless characters to get out of the place (because of a math-related supervillain, which is really the central plot the episode). Still, that episode got a scathing write up in The Christian Post for this scene which “does not feature a same-sex kiss” but does feature the women “holding hands.”
These are the specific scenes that Stitt cites when claiming that educational television is “sexualizing” children. None of this is about sex. No one on PBS Kids has sex. No one on PBS Kids even talks about sex. Not even about birds, bees, or big red dog sex. There is no sex.
What it’s about is Stitt being so offended by the whole idea that LGBTQ people are accepted in society, that he finds their presence even as background characters who appear three times over the space of four years of programming, completely unacceptable.
As Stitt explains in his editorial:
Only a short time ago, some facts were considered so obvious and universally accepted that Mister Rogers could sing about them to children on a publicly funded medium, and no one thought anything whatsoever about gender dysphoria, transgender identity or drag queens when he did. Does that mean Fred Rogers was a bigot? Was he a transphobe? No. In fact, no one had ever heard of such accusations at the time.
In this case Stitt is citing a song that Fred Rogers sang forty-three years ago, which included the line, “only boys can be daddies, only girls can be mommies.” That’s not just Stitt’s idea of “a short time ago,” it’s his evidence that once education TV was good, and now it’s bad. To say that Fred Rogers would not be thrilled about his material being used to demean a whole segment of the population is putting it way too mildly.
What Stitt wants is to get back to the point where LGBTQ people can be threatened, humiliated, and legislated against until they are forced to hide in misery or take even more drastic measures. Everyone who isn’t cis gender should be hounded out of public view. Even if they’re a cartoon rat.
As he told KOCO, the people defending educational television should also be considered suspect. “There are parents defending child transition on PBS that’s being played. There’s elevating LGBTQIA2S+ voices.” What he meant by either of these statements, other than “look at me being a bigot” is hard to say.
Stitt isn’t against educational TV. He’s against educational TV admitting that 7% of the population exists. You can absolutely bet that no one at Stitt’s office or The Christian Post has taken the time to count the number of times over the last four years there were non-same-sex weddings on public television, or how often a boy and girl were shown holding hands. Because none of this is about sex; It’s about hate. And on that point, Stitt is educating everyone.
It’s not the LGBTQ community, or anyone involved in PBS, who should feel ashamed about this, it’s Stitt. But of course he doesn’t. As Hunter reported, the Republican Party has turned prejudice into a requirement for any candidate or office holder. Attacking PBS Kids programs fits neatly between declarations that Disney is too woke and that libraries are anti-Christian.
When shamelessness is a superpower, the politician most willing to wear their bigotry loud and proud wins. Stitt is not about to be left behind.
Goodbye, satire. From anti-woke coffee to gay science sharks, you didn’t stand a chance
DeSantis wrote his own confession, to the delight of Disney lawyers