American Morning

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August 12th, 2011
05:28 AM ET

Talkback: Should there be gay characters on children's television?

Last week, social activism web site change.org posted an online petition calling for Bert and Ernie, the famous friends from the long-running television show "Sesame Street," to get married in order to teach children self-acceptance and tolerance.

The petition has received a lot of buzz online, generating over 6,000 signatures as of Friday morning.

The producers of "Sesame Street" responded to the petition on Thursday, issuing a statement on their Facebook page which said that "Bert and Ernie are best friends" and "even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics, they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."

Talkback: Should there be gay characters on children's television?

Let us know what you think. Your answer may be read on this morning's broadcast.


Filed under: AM Asks
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Donna Beane

    Maybe Burt and Ernie share a bedroom because they are brothers! I am tired of GAY being shoved down our throats. God made two sexes for a reason. It seem as if we are made to feel guilty for being straight nowadays. Gay is a sin in the eyes of God. God's opinion is all that matters in the end. Enough said.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:09 am |
  2. Tyler

    First of all Bert and Ernie are not gay, they are just roomates in the same apartment. Even if they were gay, I could care less, as long as they are teaching our children the ABCs and 123s, everything is fine.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:08 am |
  3. Helen

    Bert and Ernie should be whatever they want to be. That's what makes this country great. Gay, straight, transgender, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, white, black. Who cares?! People need get over themselves.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:07 am |
  4. RA

    I am gay This has nothing to do with the bible or adult's biases. Kids should have shows on learning to count, read, and play. There should be no gay or straight relationships. Dora and Diego should not be dating just as Bert and Ernie should not get married on children shows. This has nothing to do with government extending marriage rights to all couples.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:06 am |
  5. Michael

    NO!! HATE as well as tolerance are taught in the home. Young children learn from their parents and adults they're around most. At the end of the day, children love everyone until the prejudice of their influencers shows. Tolerance needs to be directed those teaching hate to our children.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:06 am |
  6. Dan Geho

    Who cares Carol? It's the economy, beautiful!

    August 12, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  7. carnegie

    the issue should be framed from achild's perspective. A character with two moms or two dads would be an appropriate way to introduce the concept i. E. Families can be different.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  8. Raymond Massi

    These are children's minds that are so easily influenced and persuaded. I mean really talk about confusion or better yet almost brain washing them to think its how they should feel when they have no idea what those types of feelings even are like with a significant other let alone same sex couples. How about we teach them where babies come from 1st uhhhhh a man and a woman then we work on the tolerance and acceptance for others.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  9. Lori

    Birds and bees, bees and bees....leave it to parents, not tv.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  10. David/ PC,Fl.

    as a gay male.... i find it totally un-called for. what's the purpose?

    August 12, 2011 at 7:43 am |
  11. Lori

    My 7, 6, and 5 year olds dont understand the birds and bees let alone bees and bees. Sexuality should be taught by parents when they decide it is time, not a television program.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:43 am |
  12. Chris Yoder

    There needs to be more interjection or shall I say education on homosexuality in our society, for Tolerance sake. There isn't enough, hence the STRONG opposition (DOMA, Hate Crimes, etc.) The outlet of Sesame Street could work, however wouldn't it be just as effective to teach acceptance for the LGBT community, vs. editing the characters themselves. There may only be 6 states that allow gay marriage, but the hate and bigotry towards people of our own society, needs to end.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  13. Jim

    I don't believe that Bert and Ernie should be promoting a gay lifestyle. If a person is gay, that is their own business, however, the problem I have is when the gay community tries to convince the rest of society that a gay lifestyle is "normal". It is NOT a normal lifestyle!

    August 12, 2011 at 7:40 am |
  14. JR

    God makes it very clear, no homosexuality. People have a God given sense of right and wrong, and really know homosexuality is wrong. If this was not true, why do people try to tone down the word homosexual by using softer descriptions like (gay, or same sex?) Homosexuals want the world to accept them so they won't have to do the hard personal work of change. God is against homosexuality, is doesn't create them. Homosexuals are created by people's beliefs about unfortunate life experiences.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:38 am |
  15. Loyd

    NO NO NO NO quit replacing moral lifestyles with immoral lifestyle in the name of equality

    August 12, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  16. Ted

    Katy Perry's "Hot N Cold" Elmo video got pulled for attire that was (in my opinion not a big deal) good luck with this silly notion that in order to teach kids tolerance you must marry muppets.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  17. Bill

    Hell no. We should not use our children in our latest social/political experiment.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  18. Renae

    This is ridiculous! THEY ARE PUPPETS! I agree completely with the way the show responded. Children's shows should not focus on sexual orientation. They should focus on educating children about things like getting along with others, the alphabet, counting, etc., which is something Sesame Street has always done. Why should a children's show be responsible for introducing a topic that should be left for parents/caregivers to discuss when a child is at an age where they can understand the subject matter.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:34 am |
  19. Alden

    Sexuality incorporated into a program for toddlers is not appropriate. BUT accepting diversity in how people present themselves is 100% appropriate and needed. Anyone opposed to seeing characters of different "orientations" is simply closing their eyes to the reality of life.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:33 am |
  20. MOSES

    DEFINITELY NOT. Children programs should be just that; children programs. No poitical or sexual orientation/affiliation.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:31 am |
  21. Joel

    This brings sex to ABC's! in a culture that seems obcessed with sex at every turn now we have to have with our ABC's too? Children are exposed to way too much to begin with in ads and commericals with sexual imagery. Does it have to be everywhere?

    August 12, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  22. Garrett

    I think its a great idea, these people arent asking to put adult content into the shows. It shouldnt be made into a national issue wheither or not two FICTIONAL CHARACTERS are gay.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  23. Mark

    Ever watch the show? "Sesame Street," already teaches self-acceptance and tolerance.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:29 am |
  24. Melissa

    Africa created the character Kami, a mustard-colored furry Muppet that likes nature, telling stories and collecting stuff. She also happens to be HIV-positive. The purpose is to teach children acceptance. I think introducing a homosexual character couldn't hurt anything, but potentially (and hopefully) teach acceptance to future generations about homosexuality.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:29 am |
  25. David Guthrie

    should the muppets teach sex ed, and religion, and everything else that are really the responsibility of parents in the privacy of the home? I think not!

    August 12, 2011 at 7:28 am |
  26. Josh

    Why not? Exposing children to this early on, will erase any confusion they have, and hopefully embed tolerance into their little minds.....or just make them intolerant sooner.....either way they should be exposed to it as soon as possible so their minds aren't clouded by intolerant comments as they grow up, but a more understanding view.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  27. man 2011

    it already happen.... go watch the Teletubbies &/or Yo Gabba Gabba!

    August 12, 2011 at 7:06 am |
  28. Jeff Fleischmann

    Yes. You're never too young to learn about the countless variations among the people in the world and the ways we relate to one another.

    August 12, 2011 at 6:47 am |
  29. Ed

    No way. the more our moral values decline the closer we come to ending up like The Roman Empire, and every other former great world power. why can't we learn from history ?

    August 12, 2011 at 6:36 am |
    • Helen

      Just so you know, the Roman Empire collapsed a Christian Empire.

      August 12, 2011 at 8:09 am |
  30. Pat Collens

    I am not in favor of FORCING the introduction of a gay character, or gay scenarios, on ANY TV PROGRAM, and certainly not on a children's program. I believe that friendship, courtesy, mutual respect, and other aspects of human social interaction can be shown to children without having to introduce the aspect of overt sexual preference. With regards to Sesame Street, given that none of the characters have girlfriends nor are shown as being overtly heterosexual, why introduce a homosexual character having a boyfriend ?

    August 12, 2011 at 6:26 am |
  31. Johnny J.

    Of course they should. We have African-American characters...heck we have blue, pink, yellow and purple characters. To say that children's television is or should be without a political influence is both naive and an oversight of the possibility of enlightening our children as to what they will encounter in the real world. It doesn't have to, nor should it be, graphic or sexual in nature, but to be less than inclusive is just plain dumb. What a great way to create discussion! Let's educate and then let the child and family discuss their own personal views on the matter. It kinda reminds me of the hilarious setting of two twin beds on "I Love Lucy"...didn't we all chuckle about that?

    August 12, 2011 at 6:24 am |
  32. Oisin Crowley

    No there should be no gay characters on children TV, because in the eyes of that young child, there is no gay or straight. you don't see programs like the teletubbies or Seasme Street teaching kids about being straight do you? That said in older children programing (like 8+) would be a good time to start introducing gay characters and thus bring about greater tolerance.

    August 12, 2011 at 6:20 am |
  33. Jack

    This is pure blasphemy! Bert and Ernie were just good friends. Who's next Scooby Doo and Shaggy?? or maybe Fred and Barney...ENOUGH is ENOUGH!!!! Jack

    August 12, 2011 at 6:20 am |
  34. Phil Hall

    Absolutely not. The Bible speaks against sexual immorality and specifically against the practice of homosexuality. Blue-penciling the Bible facilitates the erosion of values.

    The idea of diversity is based on centrism, which gives the appearance of credence to topics that have no validity.

    August 12, 2011 at 6:17 am |
  35. Russell

    People need to really stop. Being gay is one thing, but trying to turn everything gay is another!

    August 12, 2011 at 5:40 am |