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Disney announces first gay character in children’s show Andi Mack

Disney announced its first gay character in one of their cable network shows, “Andi Mack,” before the season 2 premiere last month.

The show follows a group of 13-year-olds and their coming of age. In the season two premiere, it was revealed that one of the boys in the trio realizes he has a crush on one of his male peers. The average viewer of the show is 10-years-old.

After Disney’s press release about the show, pushback from parents arose. One Million Moms, a division of the American Family Association, is dedicated to creating a morally right society for their children to grow up in through petition making. 

Their mission is to, “stop the exploitation of our children, especially by the entertainment media (TV, music, movies, etc.). Mom, is the most powerful tool you have to stand against the immorality, violence, vulgarity and profanity the entertainment media is throwing at your children,” according to their website. 

The site encouraged mothers to sign a petition to push Disney to cancel this show condemning it for its “adult content.”

Mills student Sofia Mendieta thinks there is not enough positive representation of sexual identities in media. Mendieta says that bisexuality is often depicted as, “either one or the other.” She expected there to be pushback, and says there is always bound to be negative responses amongst the positive ones when it comes to these types of strides in media.

While she is happy with this character she also thinks they can always do more.

“It’s so sad it took them this long,” Mendieta said. 

Professor of Sociology, Gema Cardona, says the question is not if certain identities are represented, but how they are represented or misrepresented.

“Since media functions as one of the central socializing agents in our society, children consume dominant ideas about gender and sexuality that then impacts their own identity and how they treat others,” Cardona said.

Seeing the representation of one’s own culture, ethnicity, sexuality, and class is integral to how a child may develop their own sense of identity in later years.

First-year, Grace Patterson, said she watched the show upon hearing Disney’s announcement. She called Disney’s decision to create this storyline “really exciting.”

“A lot of times in media and tv shows or movies they have the bisexual character have a series of negative attributes based on stereotypes. I kind of feel like I have to settle for less accurate [characterization],” Patterson said.

In her own youth Patterson did not feel like there was any type of representation, so she is pleased with the idea of younger children being able to see this type of content.

“I feel like I would have been a lot less confused as a young person about who I was if  I had seen myself reflected on the screen. Every character I saw on tv growing up was portrayed to be straight, and I didn’t notice it at the time. The world isn’t actually like that,” Patterson said.

Patterson’s feeling about her sexual identity being under-represented is not singular, and many LGBTQ organizations are praising Disney’s announcement.

“In the future, I would hope to see a variety of different types of characters in more shows geared toward different ages and audiences,” Patterson said.