Gay teens are popping up in major roles all over television prompting family experts to question the impression on real-life teens facing the challenges of bullying, self-esteem, basic Christian values, and life choices.
Conservative bloggers and religious leaders say unfortunately, many Americans are willing to allow Hollywood to manipulate their family’s perspective on the world.
Those who oppose same-sex marriage say there is a well-financed and detailed plan at work to change Americans' opinions about homosexual and lesbian lifestyles through television programming.
The ABC network recently received an “excellent rating” from The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) during its latest report because more than half of its programming includes gay characters or discussions about homosexuality.
The network has the highest percentage of hours, some 55 percent, that includes homosexuals, lesbians, or references to them. The report also shows that the network’s homosexual content rose nearly 20 percent during the last year.
Broadcast programs with regular gay characters and plot lines includes "America's Next Top Model," "Ugly Betty," "Grey's Anatomy," "Glee," MTV, "Will and Grace," “American Dad,” and a host of reality shows and movies.
Religious conservatives are blasting GLAAD, claiming the group is strong-arming networks into broadcasting gay-inclusive programming.
Dwayne Hastings, vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, says television is definitely shaping American culture, but not for the better.
He said parents should instill strong morals and stand on biblical truth, which condemns homosexuality.
"For families who seek to follow Christ and earnestly live out their faith, there is nothing happy in this report by GLAAD,” Hastings said.
"Those who push for so-called homosexual rights and lobby for same-sex interests have a powerful ally with deep pockets in the entertainment industry who are more than willing to use their media to recast the homosexual lifestyle as normal and exciting."
Hastings says with reports like this one, the plan seems to be working.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics board says the reality is that there is not enough wholesome content on television today and it is affecting children and society as a whole.
“If we were to publish the same kind of report that GLAAD produced about how many evangelical Christians and wholesome role models were on television – it would be a very short report," Hastings added.
Family experts say there are not enough people concerned about the lack of accurate, portrayal of Bible-believing characters on television or in the movies.
The Media Research Center’s Culture and Media Institute (CMI) criticized GLAAD, saying television executives feel forced to feature gay and lesbian characters.
"Don’t even think about downsizing the disproportionate airtime television networks give gay characters and issues. The bean-counters at GLAAD are watching,” CMI wrote in a statement.
“So if it seems that you can’t flip through the channels today without running across gay characters or story lines, you’re right. You can’t. And GLAAD’s there to make sure of it.”
ABC is not the only network to receive a positive rating from gay advocacy groups for its portrayal of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders. Most every network on television today now airs programming that contains homosexual content, the report said.
Young children and teenagers who watch a lot of television aren't just missing out on more stimulating activities, they are soaking in "some really bad ideas."
They are destined for problems at school, negative lifestyles, and unhealthier habits later in life, new research suggests.
Each additional hour of television that young people watch per week translates into more lifestyle changes, according to a new study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
"Kids should be doing things that are intellectually enriching: playing with board games, playing with dice, playing with things that will improve their motor skills, reading, and learning about positive ideas and lifestyles," says the lead author of the study, Linda Pagani, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Psychoeducation at the University of Montreal, in Quebec.
"All that is replaced by sitting on the couch."
Experts say the latest reports call attention to the drawbacks of not making wise choices concerning childhood television watching.
A number of studies have linked too much television that contains negative lifestyle images to negative actions in kids, including defiance, behavior problems, shorter attention spans, slower language acquisition, increased aggression, and confusion.
“The rapid edits, negative images, and quick sequences found in many of today's television shows may be especially harmful in this respect,” said Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington and the country's foremost expert on the health effects of TV in childhood.
"The hypothesis we have is that this conditions the mind to expect high levels of input, and by comparison, reality is boring – it doesn't happen fast enough," he says.
Yet another possibility is that the negative images and homosexual references on television that have been studied are a symptom of broader family and household dynamics leading to decreased social standards in life.
The Parents Television Council (PTC), an education organization advocating responsible entertainment with more than 1.3 million members across the United States, says that individuals who contact network executives, along with advertisers, have a huge impact on television programming.
PTC wants parents who are concerned about homosexual, anti-family, and negative programming to express their opinion to key decision-makers.
“The default setting for broadcast television used to be family-oriented, while those desiring edgier, more explicit fare were free to seek it out. Today’s prime time television programming has become almost uniformly unsuitable for families, and often directly hostile to their values, making it very difficult for parents to shield their children and seek out alternative entertainment,” PTC points out.
The Parents Television Council says network executives, along with advertisers, are the key decision-makers in Hollywood decide what options you'll have in television programming. Visit http://www.parentstv.org/PTC/networks/main.asp to get involved.