Alabama Public Television is refusing to air an episode of Arthur featuring a gay wedding.
APT's director of programming, Mike McKenzie, told NBC News the network decided to air a re-run in place of the animated show's recent premiere, in which Arthur's teacher, Mr. Ratburn, comes out as gay and gets married. This decision, McKenzie said, was made because "we felt it would be a violation of trust to broadcast the episode" when parents might be unaware of its content ahead of time. McKenzie also said there are no plans to air the episode in the future.
This isn't the first time an episode in the Arthur franchise featuring a same-sex couple has been blocked from airing. In 2005, an episode of the Arthur spinoff, Postcards From Buster, featured a character who has two mothers. This was criticized by then-Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, and PBS ultimately decided to pull the episode, although some affiliates still aired it, Variety reports. Alabama Public Television didn't, though, with its then-executive director telling AL.com at the time that "we basically have a trust with parents about our programming" and "this program doesn't fit into that."
Nearly 15 years later, PBS said of the decision to air Mr. Ratburn's wedding that "we believe it is important to represent the wide array of adults in the lives of children who look to PBS KIDS every day." Some Alabama parents were disappointed when the episode didn't air on APT, with one telling AL.com, "I never thought I'd be going to battle for a gay rat wedding, but here we are."
Those in Alabama who still want to watch the episode can do so on the PBS website.