WASHINGTON — Five Republican senators are demanding an overhaul of the current TV ratings system to include warnings about LGBTQ+ content, which they claim “not only harms children, but also destabilizes and damages parental rights.”
The effort to expand labeling is spearheaded by Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), who is joined by Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).
The five senators penned a highly homophobic and transphobic letter sent on Wednesday to Charles Rivkin, chairman of the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board, which regulates the parental guidance ratings broadcast before television programs. The letter includes shocking, stigmatizing language about trans people and their experiences.
In the letter, Sen. Marshall and his fellow Republican legislators claim that “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.”
“To this end,” the anti-trans senators continue, “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.”
Besides asking for an expansion of government-backed intervention on the definition and labeling of sexual content, the senators tendentiously quote background material surrounding the Telecommunications Act of 1996 — which was struck down by the courts as unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds — alleging that Congress found that “studies indicate that children are affected by the pervasiveness and casual treatment of sexual material on television, eroding the ability of parents to develop responsible attitudes and behavior in their children.”
The Republican senators then go on to conflate “sexual situations,” which the ratings system is meant to flag, with the very existence of LGBTQ+ characters.
Targeting a Disney policy of inclusivity, the senators claim that, “to the detriment of children, gender dysphoria has become sensationalized in the popular media and television with radical activists and entertainment companies” and assert that this “not only harms children, but also destabilizes and damages parental rights.”
Reductive, Pseudo-Medical Musings About ‘Puberty’
Senator Marshall and the others also condemn Disney in the letter for denouncing Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. “Sexual orientation and gender identity instruction,” the senators declared, without providing any meaningful evidence, “often entails a discussion concerning an individual’s pattern of emotional, romantic and sexual attraction.”
The letter also includes shockingly reductive, pseudo-medical statements about human sexual development by the avowedly anti-sex, religiously-inspired politicians.
“Considering that the cognitive markers of sexual desire emerge during puberty when adolescents undergo natural hormonal and physiological changes,” they write, “it is wholly inappropriate to display this content in a TV-Y7 category and for other young audiences. This dialogue often involves the promotion of irreversible experimental treatments that involve surgical and otherwise invasive cosmetic procedures that are detrimental and life-altering, and do not evidence medical necessity.”
The letter also implies deliberate “grooming” on the part of Disney executives and TV producers, a smearing accusation which appears intended to chill free speech.
“The motivations of hyper-sexualized entertainment producers striving to push this content on young audiences are suspect at best and predatory at worst,” the senators write.
The senators then double down on the threat by summoning the members of the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board to attend Congress for “an in-person briefing.”
Sen. Marshall Demands Answers About ‘Problematic’ She-Ra, Princesses of Power
According to a Rolling Stone report today, although the senators “do not cite any problematic shows in their letter,” Marshall’s office “provided the Kansas City Star with a list of four: Nickelodeon’s ‘Danger Force’ and ‘The Loud House,’ and Netflix’s ‘She-Ra and the Princesses of Power’ and ‘Dead End: Paranormal Park.’”
Disney, Rolling Stone points out, “has been under assault from conservatives for speaking out against Florida’s new law that prohibits teachers in kindergarten through third grade from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity. The law also allows parents to sue over alleged violations.”
Senator Marshall accompanied Wednesday’s letter with a tweet lambasting “Disney’s latest campaign to embed left-wing sexual politics in its children’s programming.”