SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- February 2 -- The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) today condemned the decision of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) not to distribute an episode of "Postcards From Buster" to its roughly 350 member stations that was scheduled to run Feb. 2 and included lesbian mothers. Earlier in the week Pat Mitchell, the president of PBS, and other PBS officials had deemed the episode entitled "Sugarland." appropriate. However, US Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings later denounced the program, saying, according to the New York Times, that "many parents would not want children exposed to a lesbian life style." "Postcards From Buster" stars Buster Baxter, an animated rabbit who until now has been known primarily as a close friend of Arthur, the animated aardvark and star of the highest-rated children's show on PBS. "Postcards From Buster," a spinoff of "Arthur," combines animation with live action. The series, in which Buster travels to different states with his father and sends video postcards home, is targeted at a young school age audience. In the series, Buster introduces and narrates live-action segments that show real children and how they live. Among his guests and friends have been single-parent families, Mormons in Utah, a family of five living a trailer in Virginia, all sharing one room, as well as American Indians and Hmong, and fundamentalist Christians and Muslims. WGBH-TV of Boston, which produces the show, plans to broadcast the episode in March and offer it to other PBS stations on an individual basis.
GLMA President, Tri Do, MD, said, "It's unfortunate that PBS would cave into homophobic pressure from Secretary Spellings and the Department of Education. Sadly we have come to expect this kind of coercion from cabinet level departments in this administration." Noting that the grant that the producers of "Buster" received from PBS states that the show "should be designed to appeal to all of America's children by providing them with content and characters with which they can identify...Diversity will be incorporated into the fabric of the series to help children understand and respect differences and learn to live in a multicultural society," Dr. Do continued, "Many thousands of families in this country are headed by same sex couples. I assume that Secretary Spellings would react much differently if viewers complained that they didn't want to be exposed to, say, Muslim or Hmong families. She would, I hope, condemn such attitudes for the bigotry they clearly represent."
Ken Haller, MD, a pediatrician in St. Louis, Mo., and former President of GLMA noted, "In 2002 the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement that showed that kids raised in same sex parent households do just as well on all measures of health as children raised in opposite sex parent households and urged pediatricians to 'advocate for initiatives that establish permanency through coparent or second-parent adoption for children of same-sex partners through the judicial system, legislation, and community education.' To stigmatize these parents -- and their children -- as somehow undesirable or unsavory hurts children and families headed by same sex couples."
Joel Ginsberg, JD, MBA, executive director of GLMA, stated, "This is another attempt by this administration to render gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons invisible. We call on our members to contact their local PBS stations to urge them to run the 'Sugarland!' episode of 'Postcards from Buster.' We also call on officials at PBS to meet with us to discuss why LGBT persons fit into their stated mission of diversity for audiences of all ages."
Since 1981, GLMA has been working to ensure equality in health care for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and health care professionals. GLMA achieves its goals by using medical expertise in professional education, public policy work, patient education and referrals, and the promotion of research.