The Huffington Post’s David Kleeman reports on the recent petition from change.org, a website for social change, to get two of Sesame Street’s favorite characters – Bert and Ernie – married in order to defuse the “living together” status of two men.
The article proclaims that there has been no other television program, whether for children or adults, that has accomplished what Sesame Street has in its long tenure of forty plus years, to nurture and promote diversity. That first program introduced a multi-racial mix of humans and Muppets living on a dirty city street in New York, but actually teaching the children watching letters, numbers, and just getting along.
Since then, without a break, Sesame Street and its global adaptations have presented models for equality, country-to-country cooperation, respect and rights for those with disabilities, empathy for those with HIV, and many different social situations.
Huff Post described the Sesame Street curriculum as “built around insightful research into children’s lives and learning. When Takalani Sesame in South Africa added an HIV+ character, it was because research indicated it was an omnipresent issue in children’s lives there. The need and opportunity existed to help children learn both facts about, and compassion for, people with an illness that was devastating families.”
The reports stated that the petition for Bert and Ernie to get married came from the adult perspective because of “rumors” about the two characters for years, but always from adults. “When was the last time you heard a toddler ask why they live together?”
Sesame Workshop replied that Burt and Ernie are Muppets and do not have any sexual orientation. Even though the petition requests that the producers of the show “allow” the pair to marry, it is not as though such a request has been hovering over the show for many years and just addressed now.
The report states that if Sesame Workshop discovers that children have questions or need models for same-sex marriage, its researchers and writers, will address the issues and find a way to introduce the situation into the show’s storyline.
The Sesame Street staff rebutted that “Forcing long-running characters to take on this role, primarily because long ago adults put their own cynical spin onto Bert and Ernie is the wrong way to go about it.” Sesame Street implies that Bert and Ernie are BFFs and they will stay that way for the foreseeable future and beyond.
Season 42 begins on September 26, on PBS KIDS.