Fact Check

Nickelodeon Homosexuality

Is Nickelodeon about to air a TV show that promotes homosexuality?

Published Jun 18, 2002

Claim:   Nickelodeon will air a TV show that portrays homosexuality in a positive light.

Status:   Sort of.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2002]

Please read this below many have probably already heard this but if not we have got to do something about it! I have enough problems without Nickolodeon shoving this in the faces of our CHILDREN!

Please take time to sign,

Cable channel Nickelodeon plans to air a show promoting homosexuality to little children. Your immediate help is needed to stop this inappropriate propaganda. Please visit ConservativePetitions.com and read how 'Nick News,' the channel's Sunday evening 'news magazine' geared to kids age 8-13, will include discussion of homosexual families, 'anti-discrimination' laws and a discussion with 'homosexual' middle school children. The address is:

The potential damage to our little children won't be confined to Nickelodeon. Nick News also is shown in classrooms across the country as a part of 'Cable in the Classroom.' Please see if Nick News airs in schools you care about. Traditional Values Coalition believes this show is completely inappropriate and should not air. This show is nothing more than pure propaganda. It is an attempt to further desensitize our nation's children.

Please sign the petition to Nickelodeon President Herb Scannell. It's available at:

Then email everyone you know to warn them of this pro-homosexual program targeting our children and grandchildren. Act now while there is time to stop this threat.

Andrea Lafferty
Executive Director, Traditional Values Coalition

Origins:   In early May 2002 incitements to sign a petition opposing a proposed gaycentric segment of Nick News began to percolate through the online community. The segment is a reality and is being planned as a news special described as "engag[ing] children in a discussion over gay parenting and discrimination against homosexuals." To Nickelodeon, it's about addressing issues kids typically face, as many of them have schoolmates who hail from same-sex households. To the Traditional Values Coalition, the group pushing the petition drive, the focus of the segment amounts to an airing of "the homosexual


How one views this topic and the uproar over it will depend in great part upon that person's personal views about homosexuality, as tempered by his or her assessment of the impressionability of children. The petitions intended to drum support for the anti-gay side are often inflammatory, however, so those leaning towards that view will have to do a bit of judicious filtering prior to giving this a real think-over. (The example quoted above is of the milder variety. Other versions we've seen claim gays "are aggressively targeting children for homosexual recruitment!" and the proposed show "will promote homosexual sodomy." Nickelodeon spokesman David Bittler said the show is not about sexuality, but it does offer a chance for children to talk about different family structures, including gay and straight parenting. To us that doesn't sound like the recruitment drive for the bathhouses some of the petitions are making it out to be.)

The Nick News segment in question, "My Family Is Different" (produced by newswoman Linda Ellerbee) will air on Tuesday, 18 June at 9:00 PM (scheduled outside of kids' usual viewing hours). Appearing in segments of the program with children will be Rosie O'Donnell, the popular talk show host (and adoptive mother of three), as well as a New York City firefighter and a Minnesota school principal, all of whom are gay. The Rev. Jerry Falwell and a representative of a conservative Christian group will appear in separately taped segments. (Nickelodeon said the latter guests agreed to participate too late to be included in the segments taped with children; Jerry Falwell maintained he was only invited to participate at the last minute.) The Traditional Values Coalition believes "the upcoming program may be a little less radical than otherwise, but only because we've exposed Nickelodeon’s pro-homosexual agenda." Nickelodeon says "[A]ll sides of the issue will be presented. There will be segments from all sides and a segment of kids explaining what their feelings are about these issues. Nothing explicit. It will be an age-appropriate show."

Both sides have expressed their stances on the appropriateness of Nickelodeon's programming. Producer Linda Ellerbee said of the show:

[It's] about families, diversity, respect and tolerance.

If we're saying gay people deserve tolerance and respect, we're also saying that people are entitled to their own opinions. This is not a show about how one knows her or she is gay; it's not about sex and it does not tell you what to think.

Jerry Falwell opined:

I'm not naive. Having Rosie on tells me that the idea is to sell the children something they shouldn't be selling.

I personally think that since Rosie O'Donnell is participating that . . . the subtle purpose of the program is to invade the hearts and minds of children who enjoy Nickelodeon and teach them what their parents believe and their faith dictates regarding the wrongness of the lifestyle is not correct.

It is unthinkable that Nick would open its airwaves for the promotion of a lifestyle that most people of faith do not approve of and certainly to take advantage of the minds of little children who trust Nickelodeon.

However, most of the major television reviewers who've actually viewed the finished program seem to feel the advance criticism was overblown. The Washington Post's Tom Shales wrote:

Seldom has a milder-mannered television program caused a more inappropriate hullabaloo than Linda Ellerbee's "Nick News" special about children who have gay parents. The half-hour report, airing tonight at 9 on Nickelodeon, has been the object of outrage and rebuke ever since its topic was announced -- well before any of the attackers had a chance to see it . . .

All Ellerbee does on the special — part of a series of Nick News reports on the theme "My Family Is Different" — is interview children roughly 10 to 15 years old who have gay parents, let kids and adults vent their opinions on the phenomenon, and show a couple of filmed pieces about families that seem to have made the arrangement work. Only the most alarmist and paranoid could find anything insidious or threatening here . . .

The show itself is, like most Nick News programs, straightforward and diligent, allowing more than one side of the issue to be examined and mercifully refraining from politically correct preachiness. What's scary about the kind of protest that has been mounted is that it seeks to suppress all debate rather than merely put forth a viewpoint; the protesters are saying that merely by acknowledging the existence of same-sex living arrangements, the producers are automatically encouraging them or advocating acceptance of them.

And Howard Rosenberg of the Los Angeles Times weighed in with:

Ellerbee, longtime host and producer of "Nick News," keeps the promise she makes here not to tell kids "what to think" about homosexuality. Instead, in addition to Falwell, there's a short film about the pressures schoolmates put on a 12-year-old girl because she has "two moms." And Ellerbee — as always approaching her subject from a young perspective without talking down — explores the hate issue with youngsters in the studio, all of whom appear to be among the most thoughtful kids on the planet.

As the host mostly just listens, three say they have at least one gay parent, and three say they believe homosexuality to be "wrong." Several represent minorities historically victimized in the United States by the same kind of hate and prejudice inflicted on gays.

"It's against our religion," a Muslim girl says of homosexuality. "But it's also against our religion to discriminate." A strong message, another strong Ellerbee show — one that parents should join their kids in watching.

So, something along the lines of what the Traditional Values Coalition has been decrying will air (although Nickelodeon "would not confirm whether the special would be converted into a classroom lesson plan like Ellerbee's other Nick News projects"). Whether the end result will be a "show promoting homosexuality to little children" remains to be seen.

Barbara "nick knack" Mikkelson

Last updated:   5 January 2008

  Sources Sources:

    Associated Press.   "Nickelodeon to Air Special on Gay Parents Despite Protests."

    CNN.com.   18 June 2002.

    de Moraes, Lisa.   "Conservatives to Nickelodeon: Not in Front of the Children!"

    The Washington Post.   7 June 2002   (p. C7).

    Duin, Julia.   "Children's Show on Gays in Works."

    The Washington Times.   29 May 2002   (p. A2).

    Rosenberg, Howard.   "Valuable 'Nick News' Examines Gay Parenting."

    Los Angeles Times.   18 June 2002   (p. F2).

    Shales, Tom.   "Don't Ask, Don't Televise."

    The Washington Post.   18 June 2002   (p. C1).

    Vlahos, Kelley Beaucar.   "Kids News Show to Address Gay Issues."

    FOXNews.com.   5 June 2002.

Article Tags