January 27, 2005
By JULIE SALAMON
Wayne Godwin, chief operating officer of PBS, got a bit tangled as he
tried to explain the PBS stance on gay characters appearing on
children's television shows.
"In fairness I would have to say a gay character is not one we would
not include," he said, and then clarified. "The fact that a character
may or may not be gay is not a reason why they should or should not be
part of this series."
Yet on Tuesday PBS decided not to distribute to its roughly 350 PBS
stations an episode of "Postcards From Buster," which was scheduled
for Feb. 2 and included lesbian mothers, even though a few days
earlier PBS officials, among them PBS's president, Pat Mitchell,
viewed the episode and called it appropriate. That was before
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings denounced the program, starring
Buster Baxter, a cute animated rabbit who until now has been known
primarily as a close friend of Arthur, the world's most famous
aardvark. Ms. Spellings said many parents would not want children
exposed to a lesbian life style.
Buster joined another cartoon character, SpongeBob SquarePants, as a
focus of the nation's culture wars. SpongeBob was recently attacked
by Christian groups for being pro-homosexual, though SpongeBob's
creator said it was all a misinterpretation. Buster's offense was
appearing in "Sugartime!," the undistributed "Postcards From Buster"
show, in which he visits children living in Vermont whose parents are
a lesbian couple. Civil unions are allowed in Vermont.
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