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Gay Characters in Wombats, Clifford 'Indoctrinate' Kids, Says Oklahoma Gov. After Vetoing Public TV Funds

Gay Characters in Wombats, Clifford 'Indoctrinate' Kids, Says Oklahoma Gov. After Vetoing Public TV Funds

Work It Out Wombats! and Kevin Stitt

Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt tries to justify his veto of funding for the state's largest public TV operation.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is going after public television in his state, claiming that its LGBTQ-inclusive programming sexualizes and indoctrinates children.

A week ago, on April 26, Stitt vetoed a bill that would fund the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority through 2026. Unless legislators override his veto, the organization will have to shut down this year, the Tulsa World reports. It’s the major Public Broadcasting Service operation in Oklahoma.

In a press conference Friday, “Stitt criticized OETA for elevating LGBTQ voices and airing news content related to gender-affirming care for minors,” according to the World. This week, Stitt signed a bill into law banning this care for trans minors.

“I don’t think Oklahomans want to use their tax dollars to indoctrinate kids,” Stitt said. “Some of the stuff that they’re showing just overly sexualizes our kids.”

A spokeswoman for Stitt provided the World with examples, such as episodes of animated children’s shows Clifford the Big Red Dog and Work It Out Wombats! that included lesbian characters, Pride Month programming, and a PBS Newshour report in which a couple said gender-affirming care was helpful to their daughter.

Friends of OETA board member Ken Busby pointed out that the operation has a variety of programming. “OETA serves a diverse population, and Oklahoma has a diverse population,” he told the World. “People need to be given choices, and they can choose what they wish to watch and not watch. No one’s dictating that you have to watch this program or like this program.”

OETA Executive Director Polly Anderson told the paper, “It’s just really unfortunate that this is going to hurt the people of Oklahoma.”

Bob Spinks, former chairman of Friends of OETA, told TV station KOCO that about a third of OETA’s funding comes from the state, which holds the broadcaster’s license, so OETA would have to shut down if Stitt’s veto stands. “It’s not simply we’ll go out and raise that money from other sources. That money will go away,” Spinks said.

An override of Stitt’s veto appears likely, the World reports. In the meantime, commentators are taking the Republican governor to task. “Fundamentally, Stitt’s veto is nothing more than anti-LGBTQ government censorship,” Ja’han Jones wrote at The ReidOut Blog on MSNBC’s website. on MSNBC’s website. Others are noting its role in providing educational programs and emergency alert services to rural Oklahoma.

State Rep. Monroe Nichols, a Democrat, released this statement: “Make no mistake, the veto has nothing to do with what is good for Oklahoma. It is clear Governor Stitt saw another governor pick a fight with Mickey Mouse so now he’s doing his best to keep pace by sticking it to Big Bird.

“It is unfortunate, but this action is part of the governor’s continued attack on public education and underrepresented Oklahoma communities. I urge my colleagues to allow common sense to prevail, stand with Oklahomans and join me in overturning this shortsighted, absurd veto.”

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