DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - The PBS network's long-running series Arthur premiered its 22nd season, which featured the same-sex marriage of the animated aardvark's third-grade teacher, Mr. Ratburn. The episode, titled "Mr. Ratburn & the Special Someone," has already aired on the approximately 354 PBS stations broadcasting in the United States.
Mr. Ratburn is the gay icon I never knew I needed pic.twitter.com/wp4o5TLr1p— Andrea Cee (@extraspicee) May 13, 2019
Before revealing Ratburn's intended spouse, however, Arthur and his pals mistakenly believe the teacher's domineering sister is his fiancé and attempt to break them up. Voiced by lesbian actor Jane Lynch, Ratburn's sister, Patty, is only there to assist the teacher plan his wedding to a candy store proprietor.
When Ratburn and his intended husband walk arm-in-arm down the aisle, Arthur and his friends exchange approving smiles. The full episode can be viewed here.
This isn't the first time the Arthur franchise has attempted to introduce its young audience to homosexuality. In 2005, the spinoff series Postcards from Buster, featuring Arthur's best friend, Buster Baxter, left unaired an episode in which the rabbit and his father visit two lesbians joined in a Vermont civil union.
The Arthur episode is but one recent example of children's programming attempting to normalize homosexuality. For example, the Nickelodeon's The Loud House recently announced they'll introduce the biracial same-sex parents of series character Clyde McBride.
Heralded by some reporters as groundbreaking, however, the depiction of the two adult gay men as overprotective and hyperemotional seems inspired more by homosexual stereotypes.
Nickelodeon is owned by Viacom, which also controls MTV, Comedy Central, BET and TV Land. Funding for PBS, on the other hand, is far more complicated. Arthur, for instance, is co-funded by public television station WGBH in Boston and the Cookie Jar Group, a publicly funded media organization based in Canada.
Established in 1970, PBS receives 15% of its operating costs from government funding each year. Defenders of this model accurately claim that each dollar of government funding is matched by $6 in donations from individual and corporate philanthropy but fail to consider many PBS stations are housed for free on the grounds of publicly funded universities.
Additionally, federal and state grants underwrite much of the programming broadcast on PBS stations. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the umbrella organization under which PBS and U.S. public radio network NPR reside, has requested $495 million in government appropriations for fiscal years 2020 through 2022.