Should Doc McStuffins Teach Our Kids About Diversity in Families?

Doc McStuffins

Have you seen the episode of Doc McStuffins that’s causing quite the stir on the internet? Chances are, if you have kids, you’ve seen every episode of Doc McStuffins at least twice. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Disney Junior cartoon, the lead character is named Dottie “Doc” – a black girl that helps sick toy animals get better. The show, currently in its 4th season, teaches kids (ages 2 to 5) how to be great citizens and solve problems through creativity and teamwork.

So, what’s all the fuss about?

The episode causing all the fuss, titled “The Emergency Plan” features an interracial lesbian couple that find themselves separated after a toy dragon causes an earthquake. The story, of course, has a happy ending with Doc reuniting the family and teaching the moms how to create emergency kits. We all know that families come in all shapes and sizes.  However, the issue is that parents were caught off guard by the context of the episode. The description for the episode only says, “a Doll family is separated from one another when their house collapses. A toy duck tries fixing other toys without training.” The failure to mention that the episode would feature two interracial moms left parents unable to make a decision about whether they wanted their kids to be exposed to such diversity at a young age.

Doc McStuffins

Applause and Support for the Episode

There’s plenty of support from the LGBTQ community and activists for the episode. “Children like mine deserve the chance to see their families reflected on TV, and this episode does just that in a beautiful and positive way,” says Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. The show’s creator and executive producer, Chris Nee has stated that her desire was to instill subtle messages about sexual orientation with the goal of promoting acceptance and encouraging of diversity.

Conservatives Not Thrilled

Conservative groups, including One Million Moms has called for a boycott of Disney programming. “Controversial topics and lifestyle choices should be left up to the parents to discuss and Disney Junior should not introduce this to young children,” they wrote. “Just because an issue may be legal or because some are choosing a lifestyle doesn’t make it morally correct,” the group adds. Interestingly, parents who would consider themselves accepting of same-sex and interracial couples tend to agree with the conservative groups opposing the episode. The issue for these parents focus squarely on their responsibility to introduce their kids to diversity and the concept of acceptance, not a children’s TV show.

Doc McStuffins

Are you Concerned about the future of Children’s Programming?

I don’t think we have to worry just yet. Being a mom of biracial children, I can certainly understand the interest in my kids seeing more representations of what their family looks like on television. I can also see how more conservative families may want to control the messages taught to their kids through programming. While interracial and same-sex couples are becoming just as normal as any other type of relationship, it’s not really the responsibility of children’s programming to introduce these differences as “normal”. That job is solely on their parents. So to make both sides happy, Disney keep making great programming like Doc McStuffins…just give parents a heads up of what their kids will really be watching.

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