Conservative action group One Million Moms launched Disney Channel boycott over a groundbreaking gay storyline.
Disney announced earlier this week that the second season of kids comedy drama would see the 13-year-old Cyrus Goodman, played by Joshua Rush, develop feelings for close friend Jonah (Asher Angel) and begin a journey of self discovery.
Viewers saw Cyrus confide his feelings to supportive friend Buffy in the season two premiere on Friday (October 27), while later episodes will follow Cyrus as he wrestles over how to fell his new girlfriend.
However, the storyline has sparked a predictable backlash among homophobes unhappy with the handling – however sensitive – of LGBT issues on children’s television.
One Million Moms, a campaign group dedicated to “fighting indecency”, have launched a petition to get Disney to stop broadcasting Andi Mack immediately.
“One might question why Disney Channel feels the need to pursue such programming,” the group said in a statement.
“Why? What is wrong with having family-friendly content that is acceptable for all ages or even leaving a couple of networks solely for children’s entertainment?”
They continued: “As one of only a few channels catering to children, it cannot possibly be that Disney Channel has a financial need for more adult viewers.
“By choosing to abandon family-friendly entertainment, Disney’s inexplicable choice to move toward more “adult” fare may ultimately prove to be a huge mistake.
“The Disney Channel is deliberately choosing to ‘move forward’ and promote adult content to children.
“By choosing to move in the direction of more “adult” stories and content, the Disney Channel – and the entire Disney media empire – may be choosing to sacrifice something far more precious… children’s innocence.
First broadcast in April this year, coming-of-age series Andi Mack centres on titular character Andi, (Peyton Elizabeth Lee), a girl who discovers that her older sister is actually her mother.
Disney Channel previously said in a statement: “Andi Mack is a story about ‘tweens’ figuring out who they are. [Creator] Terri Minsky, the cast and everyone involved in the show takes great care in ensuring that it’s appropriate for all audiences and sends a powerful message about inclusion and respect for humanity.”
GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis explained the show’s groundbreaking gay storyline “makes for positive role models both for kids and adult viewers.”
“With more and more young people coming out as LGBTQ, Andi Mack is reflecting the lives and lived experiences of so many LGBTQ youth around the country,” she said.
“Television reflects the real life world and today that includes LGBTQ youth who deserve to see their lives depicted on their favourite shows. Disney has been a leader in LGBTQ inclusion and there are so many young people who will be excited to see Cyrus’ story unfold.”