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‘Paw Patrol’ Spinoff Gets Nonbinary Character and the Right Freaks Out

‘Paw Patrol’ Spinoff Gets Nonbinary Character and the Right Freaks Out

Paw Patrol and Robby Starbuck

The introduction of a nonbinary character was applauded by many, but it's also genereated fierce criticism from conservative groups.

Cwnewser

A recent episode of the children’s animated series Rubble & Crew, a Paw Patrol spinoff, has been greeted with both applause for breaking new ground in representation as well as severe criticism from some conservative quarters, shining a spotlight on the persisting divisiveness surrounding LGBTQ+ representation in media.

The episode, entitled “The Crew Builds An Observatory,” introduced viewers to River, a nonbinary character created by nonbinary author and activist Lindz Amer.

Amer took to Instagram to share their joy over the milestone, remarking: “I wanted to write a non-binary character who was aspirational and incredibly cool, someone for the pups (and kids at home) to look up to. They found an awesome non-binary actor [Cihang Ma] to voice River, and I’m so happy how it turned out.”

However, this decision has not been without its detractors. Conservative influencer Robby Starbuck has led a rallying cry against what he perceives as an effort to “indoctrinate kids into the trans ideology,” accusing the show of embracing “woke” culture.

“I regret to inform you that Paw Patrol has gone woke,” Starbuck said on social media, urging parents to “turn off mainstream shows for good” and to strictly supervise their children’s internet use to “wake up more parents.”

While debates like these are not new, the incident highlights the strained discourse over representation in children’s programming. Transgender activist and independent journalist Erin Reed addressed the controversy in a report on Substack.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, linking to her article, Reed wrote, “Bud Light. Costa Coffee. Target Clothing. It’s hard to keep track of everything conservatives have targeted for cancellation over LGBTQ+ characters. Now they have a new menace: Paw Patrol.”

She highlighted the broader industry perspective, citing experts such as the GLAAD’s Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis, who, in a discussion with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), noted the positive role of diverse representation in fostering self-worth from a young age.

Above: Right-wing influencer Robby Starbuck appears in an image next to a photo of Paw Patrol.

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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).