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Oklahoma Gov. Vetoes PBS Funding Because 'Clifford' 'Indocrinates Kids' With Lesbian Characters

GOP Governor Kevin Stitt vetoed a routine bill funding the Oklahoma Education Television Authority, saying it 'overly sexualizes our kids.'

Kevin Stitt; Clifford the Big Red Dog
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images; PBS

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt is facing backlash after vetoing a routine bill that would have provided funding to OETA, the state's PBS TV station, through 2026.

The reason for the veto is due to some PBS programs' acknowledgment of the existence of LGBTQ+ people, which the governor referred to as "indoctrination."

He argued Oklahomans don't want their tax dollars to go towards such programming, calling it an "outdated system."

Stitt said:

“I don’t think Oklahomans want to use their tax dollars to indoctrinate kids. And some of the stuff that they’re showing, it just overly sexualizes our kids. There are parents defending child transition on PBS that’s being played. There’s elevating LGBTQIA2S+ voices.” ...
“If you want to watch that, that’s fine, but why am I using taxpayer dollars to prop that up? I don’t think we need that, and I’m glad to veto that bill.”

Stitt's spokeswoman cited examples of this "indoctrination," including Pride Month programming, a PBS Newshour segment featuring the parents of a trans child, and two children's cartoons that included lesbian characters, including Work it out Wombats! and Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Despite this, the most significant impact of the veto would be the loss of the state's safety systems, which are managed by OETA. These systems include tornado warnings and Amber Alerts.

Ken Busby, a board member at Friends of OETA, criticized the governor's decision, pointing out that "no civilization since the Norman Conquest in 1066" has survived without supporting arts and culture. He also stated people should be given the choice to watch what they wish and the station serves a diverse population.

The governor's decision caused concern among parents, who fear losing the channel. OETA is the most-watched PBS station in the country and serves a diverse population. It would take two-thirds of the state legislature to override Stitt's veto, and if they fail to do so by July 1, the funding will sunset, putting OETA at risk of shutting down.

Bob Spinks, another Friends of OETA board member, noted without the bill's approval, the station would shut down since one-third of its funding comes from the government, and the state holds the station's license.

Many have condemned Stitt's move.

Stitt's veto is not the only recent attack on the LGBTQ+ community in Oklahoma.

On Monday, the governor signed S.B. 613, which bans all forms of gender-affirming care for anyone under 18, making it a felony for doctors to provide this care to trans youth, and allowing prosecution of healthcare professionals until their patients turn 45.

In a news release, Stitt said he is "thrilled to sign this into law today and protect our kids" and said he is "proud to stand up for what’s right and ban life-altering transition surgeries on children in the state of Oklahoma.”