Oklahoma gov defunds PBS station over LGBTQ content
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has defended his decision to defund the state’s PBS station over claims the taxpayer-funded outlet has been indoctrinating and over-sexualizing young children with its LGBTQ content.
The Republican doubled down on Monday after he vetoed a bill late last month that would have continued funding for the statewide PBS station, Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA), through 2026.
“OETA, to us, is an outdated system. You know, the big, big question is why are we spending taxpayer dollars to prop up or compete with the private sector and run television stations?” he told Fox News.
“And then when you go through all of the programming that’s happening and the indoctrination and over-sexualization of our children, it’s just really problematic, and it doesn’t line up with Oklahoma values.”
The station broadcasts popular children’s shows, including “Sesame Street” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” which have started incorporating LGBTQ themes — like gay characters — in recent years.
Stitt’s office also argued that OETA has aired questionable content, including a “Let’s Learn” segment that features a drag queen called Lil Miss Hot Mess reading a book titled “The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish.”
In addition to his claims of indoctrination, the governor also argued the programs weren’t educational.
“When you think about educating kids, let’s teach them to read and their numbers and counting and letters and those kind of things,” Stitt said. “I mean, some of the programing that we’re seeing … it just doesn’t need to be on public television.”
He added that the taxpayer dollars used to fund OETA could be put to better use elsewhere — and that if the programs were that popular, they could be picked up by the likes of CBS, NBC or ABC.
“Oklahoma taxpayers are going, ‘Hey, hang on, time out for just a second. That’s not my values,’” Stitt said. “I’m just tired of using taxpayer dollars for some person’s agenda. I represent the taxpayers.”
“There’s so much television, there’s so much media,” he continued. “Maybe in 1957 you could have made an argument that you needed a public television station. That’s totally outdated at this point.”
Due to Stitt’s veto, OETA is set to cease operations this year — unless the state legislature is able to overrule him.
State Democratic Rep. Monroe Nichols was among those to lash out at Stitt’s move, accusing the governor of trying to replicate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ battle with Disney.
“Make no mistake, the veto has nothing to do with what is good for Oklahoma. It is clear Governor Stitt saw another governor pick a fight with Mickey Mouse so now he’s doing his best to keep pace by sticking it to Big Bird,” Nichols said in a statement.
“It is unfortunate, but this action is part of the governor’s continued attack on public education and underrepresented Oklahoma communities.
“I urge my colleagues to allow common sense to prevail, stand with Oklahomans and join me in overturning this shortsighted, absurd veto.”
Stitt’s push to defund the statewide PBS station came as he also signed a bill banning sex reassignment procedures for minors in his state.