What is the role of sexuality in children’s programming? At this week’s TCA Press Tour, when various networks present their upcoming shows and movies to a room of critics in the form of star-studded panel Q&As, Disney featured its upcoming original movie, “Lemonade Mouth,” about a group of kids who form a band.
In introducing the movie’s stars, Disney Channel Worldwide president Gary Marsh announced, “Now, these are not the cool kids. These are the outsiders. These are
the kids who strike a blow for every other kid who feels displaced or
ignored or insubordinated to the cools and the populars at school.”
Michael Jensen, Editor-In-Chief of AfterElton.com, spoke to Marsh after the panel to discuss whether the characters, who are ethnically diverse and include both genders, would also include an LGBT presence.
“We leave it up to our audience to interpret who these characters are and how they relate to them,” Marsh tells AfterElton, noting that while characters may not be clearly identified as gay, viewers are free to interpret them that way. According to Marsh, the channel is trying to “create a diverse cross section of characters on television that kids can
have different access points and entry points to connect with.”
Marsh has said, “We don’t deal with sexuality on the Disney Channel in general. That’s just sort of not where our audience’s head’s at.
They’re really a pre-sexual audience, for the most part, and so sexuality is
not how we look to tell any kind of stories.”
But while straight characters have gone out on dates and shared kisses on the channel, there hasn’t been an equivalent for gay characters. “I don’t know where the series or the Disney Channel or the world might
evolve to in that regard. But I don’t see it has some sort of second
class,” Marsh says.
What do you think, Zappers? Is it inappropriate to introduce the Disney Channel’s young audience to gay characters? Would you feel that a children’s channel was crossing a line by featuring diverse sexual orientations? How much sexuality as far as kissing, hand-holding, and date-going do you expect in programming aimed at a young audience?
Weigh in below in our comments section.