WTVM Editorial 2-13-20: Kids, gender, and Sesame Street

Updated: Feb. 13, 2020 at 12:53 PM EST
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(WTVM) - When it comes to television shows, the rules for children’s programming are pretty strict and that’s a good idea.

But an upcoming Sesame Street episode on PBS about gender may test those rules and the ability of some parents to choose for their kids.

In case you didn’t know, the Federal Communications Commission enforces rules about the kind of children’s programming permitted on broadcast television.

The FCC mandates content be “educational and informative.”

The government polices commercials in kids’ programs, banning any deceptive advertising.

The regulations are all designed to make sure children are not manipulated or overly influenced by what they view. We agree those rules are a good idea.

And that’s what makes a future episode of Sesame Street on PBS really stand out. The episode will feature a cross-dressing gay entertainer, Billy Porter.

PBS is also supposed to be regulated by the FCC. Recently, PBS declared gender inclusivity to be part of their mission statement.

While the Billy Porter/gender episode has support, other parents are concerned about how the topic of gender and sex will be presented to Sesame Street’s young audience, usually kids under eight.

The public airwaves are not supposed to be used to target impressionable children, coaxing them to believe a certain point of view: that’s what FCC guidelines are all about.

Complicated and sensitive discussions about sex and gender identity are always better left to parents and children at the age-appropriate time.

If a government-funded entity, like PBS, is going to showcase gender for kids, the program should include a viewer discretion label to respect parental choice.

Being gender fluid is a highly personal topic involving the individual rights of a certain percentage of people who deserve to be respected.

Adults are welcome to discuss it on Main Street. It simply doesn’t belong on Sesame Street.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings an editorial a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee

1909 Wynnton Road

Columbus, GA 31906

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