GOP senators want TV rating warning for gay characters on children’s shows

A group of Republican senators is asking the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board to update its rating system to warn parents if a show contains an LGBTQ+ character. 

Senators Roger Marshall, Mike Lee, Mike Braun, Steve Daines and Kevin Cramer signed and sent the letter to the board’s chairman Charles Rivkin on Wednesday. The senators have asked Rivkin for a response by May 18 and an in-person meeting with the board.

"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," the letter reads. 

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"To this end, we strongly urge you to update the TV Parental Guidelines and ensure they are up-to-date on best practices that help inform parents on this disturbing content," it continued. 

The senators pointed to Karey Burke, president of Disney’s General Entertainment Content, saying she supports having "many, many, many LGBTQIA+ characters in our stories."

Video of Burke’s remarks were posted on Twitter. 

"This radical and sexual sensation not only harms children but also destabilizes and damages parental rights," the letter continued. 

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The senators also called out Disney for going against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after he signed a bill into law that forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, a policy that has drawn intense national scrutiny from critics who argue it marginalizes LGBTQ people.

The Walt Disney Company, a powerful player in Florida politics, suspended its political donations in the state, and LGBTQ advocates who work for the company criticized CEO Bob Chapek for what they said was his slow response speaking out against the bill. Some walked off the job in protest.

After DeSantis signed the measure, Disney released a statement saying, "Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that."

The TV ratings system was adopted in conjunction with the so-called V-chip, which is required in all TV sets built since 2000 and allows parents to block programming they deem objectionable by rating.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.