GOP Senators Want Warnings Ahead of LGBTQ+ Programming

Tuesday May 10, 2022

Netflix's "Heartstopper" with proposed LGBTQ+ warning
Netflix's "Heartstopper" with proposed LGBTQ+ warning  (Source:EDGE composite image)

A group of GOP Senators wants to warn viewers about LGBTQ+ content. According to Deadline, they're calling for a TV ratings system to warn parents about LGBTQ+ content in children's programs. Their statement singles out Disney repeatedly.

"GOP Senators Roger Marshall (Kan.), Mike Lee (Utah), Mike Braun (Ind.), Steve Daines (Mont.) and Kevin Cramer (N.D.) sent a letter to Charles Rivkin, Chairman of the TV Guidelines Ratings Board — the entity that manages and monitors the designations on programs such as TV-Y, TV-14, TV-MA, etc," Deadline reported.

"In recent years, concerning topics of a sexual nature have become aggressively politicized and promoted in children's programming, including irreversible and harmful experimental treatments for mental disorders like gender dysphoria," their statement begins.

"Considering that the cognitive markers of sexual desire emerge during puberty when adolescents undergo natural hormonal and physiological changes, it is wholly inappropriate to display this content in a TV-Y7 category and for other young audiences."

The senators claim "the motivations of hyper-sexualized entertainment producers" are "striving to push this content on young audiences," adding that their motivations are "suspect at best and predatory at worst."

The Congressmen asked for a response by May 18 and for a briefing with the members of the board in person.

According to Deadline, a GLAAD spokesperson responded: "LGBTQ people are in every family, workplace, school and neighborhood. Media is simply reflecting and representing this reality and growing acceptance of LGBTQ people across the board. An overwhelming majority of Americans reject efforts to ban books and censor conversation."

The American Psychiatric Association's primer on gender dysphoria defines it as "psychological distress that results from an incongruence between one's sex assigned at birth and one's gender identity."

"Diverse gender expressions, much like diverse gender identities, are not indications of a mental disorder," the APA says.

Moreover, while the Senators' letter maintains gender dysphoria is a topic "of a sexual nature," the APA's explainer makes the medical distinction between sexuality and gender identity.

"Gender identity is also different from sexual orientation," the APA primer reads. "Sexual orientation refers to the types of people towards which one is sexually attracted. People who are transgender have the same diversity of sexual orientations as people who are cisgender (people whose sex assigned at birth matches their gender identity)."

Rolling Stone said that the senators did not cite any problematic shows in their letter, but Kansas Senator Roger Marshall's office provided the Kansas City Star with a list of four: Nickelodeon's "Danger Force" and "The Loud House," and Netflix's "She-Ra and the Princesses of Power" and "Dead End: Paranormal Park."

The letter includes multiple mentions of Disney, which has been under assault from conservatives for speaking out against Florida's new "Don't Say Gay" law that prohibits teachers in kindergarten through third grade from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity. The law also allows parents to sue over alleged violations. "Sexual orientation and gender identity instruction often entails a discussion concerning an individual's pattern of emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction," the senators argue. "Parents all over the country have rightfully expressed outrage over its inclusion in the classroom."

The Kansas City Star noted that Marshall specifically took issue with a casting notice from Pixar, a subsidiary of Disney, looking for a voice actor for a transgender character, as well as how the company is airing a public service announcement about transgender children from the anti-discrimination group GLAAD. Marshall tweeted earlier this week about what he called "Disney's latest campaign to embed left-wing sexual politics in its children's programming."