The popular British children’s show “Peppa Pig” has introduced its first same-sex couple — two lesbian polar bears — following years of calls for more LGBTQ characters on the show.
In an episode that aired Tuesday on Channel 5 in the United Kingdom, Penny the Polar Bear tells main character Peppa Pig that she has “two mummies” and draws a picture of herself holding hands with them.
“I live with my mummy and my other mummy,” Penny says in the episode, which is titled “Families.” She adds that one of her moms is a doctor.
The cartoon show, which centers around a 4-year-old piglet and her family, has been translated into 40 languages and broadcast in over 180 countries and territories, including the U.S., according to its production company, Entertainment One. It’s been called a “global phenomenon,” though it has also faced some criticism for reinforcing gender stereotypes by showcasing a nuclear family structure with a dad who works and a stay-at-home mom.
A petition was first circulated in 2019 calling on the show, which has aired for nearly two decades and won three BAFTA awards, to feature same-sex parents. The request garnered nearly 25,000 signatures over the last few years.
“Children watching Peppa Pig are at an impressionable age, and excluding same-sex families will teach them that only families with either a single parent or two parents of different sexes are normal,” the petition says. “Peppa Pig is not just for entertainment, children are inevitably learning from it too.”
The new storyline comes amid scrutiny in recent months over LGBTQ representation in other productions catered to children. This summer, a number of Muslim-majority nations banned Pixar’s “Toy Story” spinoff “Lightyear” from theaters over a kiss between lesbian characters. A theater in Oklahoma that was showing the film also posted a warning sign in June saying employees would do “all we can” to fast-forward through the scene. On Tuesday, Gulf Arab countries asked Netflix to remove any “offensive content,” appearing to reference programs with LGBTQ characters.
A representative for Entertainment One could not be reached for comment, and License to PR, the public relations firm listed for “Peppa Pig,” did not immediately respond to a request for comment.