Alerting all parents! Many have found the prominent animated children’s program Arthur to be a clean show; 1MM has recently found that this to be no longer true. On Monday, May 14, 2019, the beloved animated series revealed that one of its longtime main characters and Arthur’s teacher, Mr. Ratburn, was gay and getting married.
In the season 22 premiere, “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” the students see Mr. Ratburn speaking to an uptight lady, voiced by guest star Jane Lynch. They fear she is the person Mr. Ratburn is going to marry, and they devise a plan to stop the wedding and prevent a life of misery for their teacher. But the kids chicken out when they get to the wedding and don't stand up to object to the marriage. They learn the uptight woman is just Mr. Ratburn's sister, who is officiating the nuptials. When Mr. Ratburn walks down the aisle, he is arm in arm with a man. Both grooms grin and all the guests smile in celebration of the same sex marriage. The third-grade students are happy for their newlywed teacher. Their praises further normalize and glorify the gay marriage.
Later in the episode at the wedding reception, Arthur and his pals discuss the wedding and their disbelief that Mr. Ratburn is married Francine tells the group, “Yep, it’s a brand new world,” perhaps a nod of approval to the changing cultural times. Then both grooms are shown dancing together at the reception.
Discussion of such controversial topics and lifestyle choices should be left up to parents. PBS Kids should not introduce this to young children. Just because an issue may be legal or because some are choosing a lifestyle doesn’t make it morally correct. PBS Kids should stick to entertaining and providing family-friendly programming, instead of pushing an agenda.
In a statement to PEOPLE online, PBS said the moment was crucial in accurately reflecting the “diverse communities” in which the children who watch the show are currently being raised.
“PBS KIDS programs are designed to reflect the diversity of communities across the nation. We believe it is important to represent the wide array of adults in the lives of children who look to PBS KIDS every day,” the network stated.
This isn’t the first time that the Arthur has delved into same-sex marriage. In 2005, a spinoff of the series called Postcards from Buster, Arthur’s best friend, met children with two moms while on a trip to Vermont.
Controversial at the time, PBS eventually pulled the episode after then-Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings disapproved of the publicly funded network’s program, according to the outlet. There were, however, some PBS affiliates that chose to broadcast it anyway.
Arthur has been on the air since October 10, 1996. The show is the longest-running children’s animated series in the U.S., and is currently the second-longest running of any animated series in the U.S., behind The Simpsons, according to IMDb.
If you agree this content is inappropriate for a children’s program, please sign our petition to PBS Kids asking the network to pull this episode, “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” immediately, and no longer air it or others with same sex couples. One Million Moms is giving you this opportunity to voice your disapproval of the network’s attempt to normalize same sex marriage.