The Governor of Oklahoma last week vetoed a bill providing funding for the state’s PBS station, arguing that publicly funded television is “outdated” and shouldn’t be pushing gender ideology on vulnerable children.
In an interview Monday with Fox News, Gov. Kevin Stitt called the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority’s (OETA) programming “really problematic” for its “indoctrination and over sexualization of our children.”
“It doesn’t line up with Oklahoma values,” Stitt said.
Late last month, the governor vetoed a bill that would have continued funding OETA through 2026, and unless the legislature is able to override his veto, the state PBS network will be forced to cease operations this year.
“OETA, to us, is an outdated system.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? And then when you go through all of the programing 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,” Stitt told Fox News Digital.
Stitt noted that other TV stations can still pick up the children’s shows if they so choose.
The governor also pointed out that fourteen other states have already defunded public television.
In recent years, PBS has incorporated inappropriate LGBTQ themes into its shows, including “Sesame Street” and “Clifford The Big Red Dog.”
In particular, the Oklahoma governor objected to a “Let’s Learn” segment on OETA that featured a “drag queen” called “Lil Miss Hot Mess” (Professor Harris Kornstein) reading a book titled “The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish.”
Drag queen Little Miss Hot Mess sings "The Hips On the Drag Queen Go Swish Swish Swish" to a virtual child audience on an episode of “Let’s Learn,” produced in partnership by WNET and the New York City Department of Education and aired on PBS. pic.twitter.com/pK9fjoOPMe
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) May 20, 2021
Professor Kornstein aka “Lil miss hot mess” spoke at a Tucson, Arizona Unified School District board meeting last month and argued that the tax dollars of those who oppose student drag shows should be used to fund multiple student drag shows a year.
Kornstein in 2021 co-authored a drag manifesto titled Drag pedagogy: The playful practice of queer imagination in early childhood proposing so-called “drag pedagogy,” as a teaching method to stimulate the “queer imagination,” teach kids “how to live queerly,” and bring “queer ways of knowing and being into the education of young children.”
“I simply want to say that I want my tax dollars, I want their tax dollars (LGBTQ critics) to be used for drag shows. I want not just one drag show a year, I want to see more drag shows because our students deserve the opportunity to express themselves and to express their artistry,” Kornstein told Tucson school board.
During an interview on Fox Business’s Varney and Company, the governor asked: “Why are we using taxpayer dollars to overly sexualize or indoctrinate children with this type of programming?”
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on why he vetoed funding for PBS:
"Why are we using taxpayer dollars to overly sexualize or indoctrinate children?" pic.twitter.com/JJomZd0X8d
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) May 8, 2023
Stitt argued that incorporating such themes into children’s programming has no legitimate educational purpose.
“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.”
The governor suggested that the taxpayer dollars being used to fund OETA could be put to better use on something that actually reflects the values of the state’s residents.
“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.”
He added: “There’s so much television, there’s so much media. Maybe in 1957 you could have made an argument that you needed a public television station. That’s totally outdated at this point.”
Oklahoma Democrats lashed out at Stitt, accusing him of trying to “pick a fight” like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis did 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,” Rep. Monroe Nichols said in a statement.
The PBS funding veto wasn’t the first action taken by Governor Stitt to push back on the LGBTQ+ agenda.
On May 1, he signed SB 613 into law banning all irreversible gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies for children under the age of 18.
Specifically, SB 613 bans the use of any medications or surgical procedures for the purpose of gender transition. Penalties for violation include felony charges, license revocation and civil actions which can be filed by a parent or guardian.
“Last year, I called for a statewide ban on all irreversible gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies on minors so I am thrilled to sign this into law today and protect our kids,” Stitt said in a statement. “We cannot turn a blind eye to what’s happening across our nation, and as governor I am proud to stand up for what’s right and ban life-altering transition surgeries on children in the state of Oklahoma.”