A group of Republican senators is calling for a TV ratings system to warn parents about LGBTQ content in children’s programs. Their statement singles out Disney repeatedly.
GOP Senators Roger Marshall (Kan.), Mike Lee (Utah), Mike Braun (Ind.), Steve Daines (Mont.) and Kevin Cramer (N.D.) sent a letter to Charles Rivkin, Chairman of the TV Guidelines Ratings Board — the entity that manages and monitors the designations on programs such as TV-Y, TV-14, TV-MA, etc.
The missive begins, “In recent years, concerning topics of a sexual nature have become aggressively politicized and promoted in children’s programming, including irreversible and harmful experimental treatments for mental disorders like gender dysphoria.”
It continues, “Considering that the cognitive markers of sexual desire emerge during puberty when adolescents undergo natural hormonal and physiological changes, it is wholly inappropriate to display this content in a TV-Y7 category and for other young audiences.”
The letter casts suspicion on “the motivations of hyper-sexualized entertainment producers” who, the letter says, are “striving to push this content on young audiences,” calling those motivations “suspect at best and predatory at worst.”
The Senators call on the TV Guidelines Ratings Board to update its designations to reflect some parents’ concerns over “sexual orientation and gender identity content in children’s TV shows.”
The Congressmen ask for a response by May 18 and for a briefing with the members of the board in person.
A GLAAD spokesperson responded to the Senators’ letter by saying, “LGBTQ people are in every family, workplace, school and neighborhood. Media is simply reflecting and representing this reality and growing acceptance of LGBTQ people across the board. An overwhelming majority of Americans reject efforts to ban books and censor conversation.”
The American Psychiatric Association’s primer on gender dysphoria defines it as “psychological distress that results from an incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity.” It also indicates, “Diverse gender expressions, much like diverse gender identities, are not indications of a mental disorder.”
Moreover, while the Senators’ letter maintains gender dysphoria is a topic “of a sexual nature.” The APA’s explainer makes the medical distinction between sexuality and gender identity.
“Gender identity is also different from sexual orientation,” the APA primer reads. “Sexual orientation refers to the types of people towards which one is sexually attracted. People who are transgender have the same diversity of sexual orientations as people who are cisgender (people whose sex assigned at birth matches their gender identity).”
The move comes amid the culture war over Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the tumult at Disney over LGBTQ issues and concern about the right to privacy in the wake of the recently-leaked Supreme Court draft decision regarding Roe v. Wade.
Deadline reached out to the TV Guidelines Ratings Board and will add any comment we receive.