Vines: Tone down reaction to Disney Channel’s first gay couple

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Vines: Tone down reaction to Disney Channel’s first gay couple

Katy Vines, Columnist

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On Sunday, the Disney Channel featured a gay couple for the first time. The network’s “Good Luck Charlie” presented a lesbian couple as a child’s parents. This is a huge milestone not only for the LGBTQ community, but also for America as a whole, and one that is long overdue. Because Disney Channel has a huge role in influencing American kids’ childhood years, it is incredibly important and beneficial to show children that more than one type of family exists.

Of course, the emergence of these characters has led to a variety of responses, both positive and negative. Such a huge focus, supportive or not, on a gay couple’s presence in a kids television show can have a negative impact.

There have been many negative reactions to the pairing. One Million Moms, a conservative organization of mothers dedicated to voicing their opinions about the messages that the media broadcasts to their children, had an especially negative response. Even before the episode of “Good Luck Charlie” was filmed, One Million Moms released a statement saying that, “Just because something may be legal or because some are choosing a lifestyle doesn’t make it morally correct,” and that “If producers keep this episode as originally planned, then conservative families will have no choice but to no longer watch Disney Channel Network.” Following the episode, displeased viewers took to Twitter and other social networks to explain their frustration, expressing disappointment and suggesting that the channel is pushing a political agenda on children.

Suggesting that Disney’s choice to feature a gay couple is “immoral” or “wrong” can be damaging to children. Young kids develop most of their values through observation of and interaction with their parents. If a parent preaches hatred of the gay community, their children are likely to adopt the same ideals. Instead of teaching children to hate others, parents should teach acceptance. Doing so will likely lead to a more tolerant and equal society in the coming generations.

Besides the backlash that Disney received, there was also quite a bit of positive feedback. Parents, teenagers and even celebrities were overjoyed with the news. Former Disney star Miley Cyrus tweeted, “I commend Disney for making this step into the light of this generation. They control…so much of what kids think! Life isn’t bright sets & wardrobe & kids becoming superstars! This is INSPIRING.” Others said the feat was “awesome” and “progressive,” and that it gave them a sense of hope. These positive reactions to Disney’s decision to portray a gay couple on its network is great because it shows that a more accepting, supportive and just America is emerging.

However, this overwhelming support isn’t something that should be blatantly expressed to the impressionable children who watch Disney Channel. If parents stress to their children that there is something special about the gay couple on “Good Luck Charlie,” these young viewers might go on to believe that the family is different from traditional ones. For example, kids might point to them in public or wonder why they are special or if there is something better about them. Parents should not make a big deal about the fact that gay couples exist, because there is nothing special about them. Gay marriage should be seen as equal to heterosexual marriage, not different. Parents should react to gay couples in much the way that Charlie’s parents did in “Good Luck Charlie,” as if there is nothing unusual about gay marriage — because there isn’t.

For the first years of a child’s life, their parents express certain values, and one of those values should be equality. To place negative or overwhelmingly positive emphasis on the subject of gay marriage can send children the wrong message that gay people are different. Everyone should be treated with love and acceptance, and the best way to continue and to develop this ideal in society is to show the coming generations that all people are equal and all love is the same.

Katy Vines is a Weinberg freshman. She can be reached at kaitlynvines2017@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.

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