Puritanical campaign group One Million Moms has launched a boycott of the Disney Channel over a gay storyline.
It was confirmed earlier this week that popular Disney Channel show Andi Mack will include its first ever gay storyline.
Season two of Andi Mack will see 13-year-old Cyrus – one of Andi’s two best friends – begin to realise he has feelings for fellow teen Jonah.
The plot arc is the first for the Disney Channel.
A long-rumoured ban on LGBT content at Disney has been slowly lifted over the past few years, but other Disney shows have only briefly featured minor LGBT characters to date.
Predictably, anti-LGBT campaign group One Million Moms laid into Disney for the plotline.
The infamous self-appointed TV censors, who despite their name have just 3,722 mostly-male Twitter followers, claimed the show was corrupting children and enticing them into a homosexual lifestyle.
It has launched a boycott petition, asking supporters to “sign the Disney Pledge stating you will not support Disney unless they produce family-friendly entertainment”.
The petition says: “I do not agree with the adult content you are pushing on families and children in programs such as ‘Andi Mack’.
“Please cancel this controversial series immediately. You will not have my support as long as you continue to veer away from family-friendly entertainment.”
A mailout says: “Alerting all parents! Additional controversial content will be included in the Disney Channel show Andi Mack during season two, premiering Friday, October 27, at 8:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. CT.
“1MM earlier warned parents this program is not suitable for a kids’ network, and now the show is introducing the network’s first gay character.
“In a first for the Disney Channel, the show Andi Mack will spend an hour focusing on one of the main characters coming out as gay. Young teen Cyrus Goodman is a key member in the program’s cast.
“During the season two premiere, he’ll make Disney Channel history as he grapples with his feelings for another boy. And in subsequent episodes, he’ll work these feelings out along with having a new girlfriend.
“According to an article in TV Line, Disney Channel’s upcoming series Andi Mack will be Disney Channel’s ‘most adult show yet’.
“This season’s premiere episode was also screened in advance for organizations like Common Sense Media, GLAAD, and PFLAG. Disney Channel claims the aim was to craft a story that maintains its signature brand of age-appropriate storytelling while building a narrative of inclusion and kindness.”
One Million Moms added: “One might question why Disney Channel feels the need to pursue such programming. Minsky states, ‘[The network] asked me for something different. They wanted to attract an older audience’.
“Why? What is wrong with having family-friendly content that is acceptable for all ages or even leaving a couple of networks solely for children’s entertainment?
“Disney Channel is gradually becoming another Freeform Network. As one of only a few channels catering to children, it cannot possibly be that Disney Channel has a financial need for more adult viewers.”
It added: “By choosing to abandon family-friendly entertainment, Disney’s inexplicable choice to move toward more ‘adult’ fare may ultimately prove to be a huge mistake.
“Disney’s first gay kiss aired earlier this year on Disney XD’s animated series ‘Star vs. the Forces of Evil’. The scene took place at a concert where the band played a romantic tune that inspired many couples in the audience to kiss; a few of those couples — none of which involved a main character — were same sex.
“The Disney Channel is deliberately choosing to ‘move forward’ and promote adult content to children. By choosing to move in the direction of more ‘adult’ stories and content, the Disney Channel – and the entire Disney media empire – may be choosing to sacrifice something far more precious… children’s innocence.”
The group also recently hit out at Disney cartoon series Doc McStuffins for featuring an interracial lesbian couple in one episode.
The episode of the Disney Junior show, titled The Emergency Plan, was centred around teaching kids what to do in an event of an earthquake.
Rather than featuring a mother and father, however, it featured two parents – voiced by Wanda Sykes and Portia de Rossi – trying to re-unite their family after a disaster.
The sexuality of the two moms was not a key focus of the show, but the LGBT diversity did not go un-noticed.
While GLAAD praised the “groundbreaking” episode, One Million Moms said: “Controversial topics and lifestyle choices should be left up to the parents to discuss and Disney Junior 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. Disney should stick to entertaining and providing family-friendly programming instead of pushing an agenda.”
In a pre-written letter One Million Moms encouraged supporters to threaten Disney with a boycott for at least the third time this year, after taking exception to other instances of LGBT inclusion.
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Its form letter threatened: “Families tuning in to watch this children’s program will encounter a premature discussion on sexual orientation that is completely unnecessary.
“If your producers keep this episode as originally planned, then my family will have no choice but to no longer watch the Disney Channel Network in our home so we can avoid the previews and commercials for this irresponsible episode as well as any reruns of the episode.
“I will not allow the Disney Channel in my home unless you produce and air family-friendly programming.”
Show creator Chris Nee strongly defended the episode.
Nee said: “I always envision Doc McStuffins as a show about what it means to accept everyone as part of our communities.
“As part of a two-mom family, I’m proud to have an episode that reflects my son’s world, and shows everyone that love is love in McStuffinsville.”
Sarah Kate Ellis of GLAAD said: “Children like mine deserve the chance to see their families reflected on TV, and this episode does just that in a beautiful and positive way.
“Shows like this reflect our real world, and today that includes the many children being raised by gay and lesbian parents who are all going to celebrate this story.”
Related: One Million Moms launch own homosexual-free cartoon series