On Monday, AL.com reported that Alabama's public television stations refused to air the season premiere of the popular cartoon, because the episode features a same-sex wedding. When it was revealed that the beloved anteater's teacher, Mr. Ratburn, was getting married to his husband, APT's director of programming, Mike Mckenzie, informed PBS that the state would not be airing the "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone" episode.
"Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire," McKenzie explained. "More importantly – although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterwards – parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision. We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for Arthur also watch the program."
This is not the first time Alabama has objected to Arthur. In 2005, APT blocked an episode in which Arthur's bunny friend Buster Baxter has a playdate with a girl who has two mothers. APT reportedly felt as though airing a gay relationship will cause parents to distrust their programming.
Why a state that thought it was okay to broadcast the brutal beating of over 600 people now thinks people can't handle televised inclusiveness is unclear. But, one Alabama mother and educator, Misty Souder, tells Al.com that she was looking forward to watching the "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone" episode with her daughter and was saddened to find out APT aired a re-run.
"I just want her to be aware," Souder explained. "There’s too much going on not to stand up for stuff, even if it’s Arthur. I never thought I’d be going to battle for a gay rat wedding, but here we are."