On the premiere of the 22nd season of the PBS animated series “Arthur,” Mr. Ratburn — the kids’ third-grade teacher — came out as gay when he married another male character, an aardvark named Patrick.
“It’s a brand new world,” one of the kids declared during the wedding.
Arthur and his friends, Muffy, Francine, and Buster, attended the wedding, intrigued by the idea — like most children are — that their teacher had a life outside the classroom.
Searching for the bride, the elementary age kids soon discovered it was another groom Mr. Ratburn was marrying.
This isn’t the first time “Arthur” has delved into the same-sex marriage debate.
Way back in 2005, the spinoff show “Postcards from Buster” featured an episode in which a little girl showed off photos of her mom and her partner, Gillian. Buster was visiting Vermont, one of the states that, at the time, allowed civil unions.
“So Gillian’s your mom, too?” Buster asked the little girl. “Boy, that’s a lot of moms.”
Ultimately PBS pulled distribution of the episode from the roughly 350 affiliate stations the publicly funded organization had at the time.
Though Pat Mitchell, who was president of PBS at the time, described the episode as “appropriate,” then-Education Secretary Margaret Spellings denounced the program, arguing parents would not want their children exposed to an LGBTQ lifestyle that early.
The creator of “Arthur” and “Postcards from Buster,” Marc Brown, said at the time he was “disappointed” by PBS’ decision not to run the episode.
“What we are trying to do in the series is connect kids with other kids by reflecting their lives,” Brown explained. “In some episodes, as in the Vermont one, we are validating children who are seldom validated. We believe that ‘Postcards From Buster’ does this in a very natural way — and, as always, from the point of view of children.”