When we learned this week that the Disney Channel’s cartoon series The Owl House is making history with the brand’s first queer kid lead character, a Dominican-American teen named Luz, we rejoiced. Representation! Non-binary sexuality! Normalizing non-hetero orientations and relationships from the get-go in kids’ TV! It’s about freaking time. There was so much to celebrate, really — that is, until we started reading the reactions from so many parents who are determined to stifle any potential expressions/explorations of non-normative sexual identities in their kids. In fact, these parents seem hellbent on crafting a closet and welcoming any and all kids to crawl inside, and frankly it’s making our hearts hurt.
Comments on Facebook regarding the mere existence of a 14-year-old queer cartoon character range from “just cancelled my Disney Plus” to “they are kids stop stealing their innocence” to this gem below.
Most of the criticism seems to stem from the idea that parents shouldn’t be revealing anything about sexual orientation to young kids, period. But, as commenter Sabrina Young wrote on Facebook, “we push romantic hetero relationships on kids from day one…people are people, and there are more than hetero couples. By not showing kids the possibilities you are ostracizing them when they don’t fit your mold.”
And she has a point: Why is no one up in arms about the hetero couples in, oh I don’t know, every single Disney movie from Snow White to Tarzan and beyond?
Gender and sexuality studies professor Gwendolyn Beetham agrees that it’s never too early to discuss sexual identity with kids. She tells Sheknows, “you may be saying, ‘College age is fine, but won’t talking to young kids about different sexualities lead to their hypersexualization?’ The answer, quite simply, is no. You know what leads to the hypersexualization of children? Shirts for little boys that read ‘future heartbreaker’ — or the fact that you can barely buy anything for girl children that isn’t pink and frilly (or sometimes even low-cut?!).”
As for The Owl House creator Dana Terrace, she’s been vocal and proud about creating a queer kid character for the show — and about the support she’s received in doing so from Disney higher-ups.
I'm bi! I want to write a bi character, dammit! Luckily my stubbornness paid off and now I am VERY supported by current Disney leadership. (Thank you @NashRiskin and team!) Not to mention the amazingness of this crew.
— Dana Terrace (@DanaTerrace) August 9, 2020
When a big corporation like Disney can get on board with representation in the name of supporting queer and maybe-someday-queer kids, it’s so sad that it’s those kids’ own parents who are standing in the way of acceptance.
Here’s hoping some of those parents will read this, and perhaps take Beetham’s words to heart when she says that “being honest with children about the different ways of loving that exist in our world is good parenting. It also means that if your child ends up identifying in any way other than heterosexual, they won’t feel as if something is wrong with them.”
If you are an LGBTQIA+ youth in crisis or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the Trevor Lifeline now at 866-488-7386.
These are just a few famous LGBTQ parents we love.