The Disney Channel, a network for young children, is introducing its first-ever gay storyline.
The second-season premiere of Andi Mack, set to air Friday at 8 p.m. ET/PT, will feature a young male — one of the show's main characters — beginning to realize that he has feelings for a male classmate.
The coming-of-age series, created by Terri Minsky (Lizzie McGuire), centers on a 13-year-old girl named Andi (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) and her interactions with her family and her two best friends, Cyrus (Joshua Rush) and Buffy (Sofia Wylie).
Friday's episode finds Andi awkwardly sorting out her feelings for her classmate Jonah (Asher Angel). At the same time, Cyrus, also 13, realizes that he, too, has feelings for Jonah and confides in Buffy — the scene and Buffy's reaction are intended to serve as a positive role model for both kids and adults — even as he struggles with how to share this revelation with his new girlfriend. This kicks off his journey to self-discovery and ultimately self-acceptance as a gay individual, as seen in subsequent episodes.
This story arc is a first for the network, which has not previously told the story of a character's journey of realizing that he or she is gay and embarking on that journey of self-discovery. In its written policy on its stories and characters, The Walt Disney Co. as a whole emphasizes inclusion, "with stories that reflect acceptance and tolerance and celebrate the differences that make our characters uniquely wonderful in their own way."
The average age of Disney Channel viewers is 6-11.
Why can't the lefties in charge of the network let kids be... kids? Progressive executives have allowed their obsession with sexual identity to seep into Disney's programming, which could create confusion for some young viewers. Most 10-year-olds are busy playing hopscotch with their friends eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches--they aren't concerned about issues like sexual orientation.
Predictably, LGBT groups are thrilled by Disney's decision. GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement:
"With more and more young people coming out as LGBTQ, Andi Mack is reflecting the lives and lived experiences of so many LGBTQ youth around the country. Television reflects the real-life world, and today that includes LGBTQ youth who deserve to see their lives depicted on their favorite shows. Disney has been a leader in LGBTQ inclusion, and there are so many young people who will be excited to see Cyrus' story unfold."
While activist groups are cheering, its unclear how the controversial decision will affect the Disney Channel's bottom line. Some parents may feel uncomfortable with their 6 or 7-year-olds being exposed to mature topics like sexual identity. Ed Vitagliano, the Executive Vice President of the American Family Association, wrote in an op-ed:
"It is not Disney's place to assume the role of parents deciding when to confront children with alternative lifestyles. I'm not saying that it's wrong for children to know that gays and lesbians exist, only that parents should be the ones to tell them. Disney should not circumvent parents on this matter."
Only time will tell if Disney's politically motivated decision will cost them viewers.