Producers of the popular children’s television program “Sesame Street” have issued statement denying that Muppets Bert and Erie are gay, and said they will not be getting married.
The statement, posted on Facebook this week, is in response to an online petition calling on Sesame Street to marry Bert and Ernie — the petition has garnered more than 8,600 signatures to date.
“I started this Change.org petition because I believe we need more media representation of gay and lesbian people in children’s programming,” said Illinois-resident Lair Scott.
“There are currently no LGBT characters on Sesame Street, nor in any children’s television program.”
But Sesame Street — a children’s television institution that has aired on PBS for more than 40 years — said there is no romantic relationship between their two roommate puppets:
“Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.
“Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”
Scott said his petition would help to put an end to bullying and suicides of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual young people.
“In this horrid age of LGBTQ kids taking their own lives and being beaten for who they are, need to know that they’re beautiful,” the petition reads. “Bullies that facilitate those tragedies be it verbal or otherwise should be taught that homophobia is not okay.”
Sesame Street has, in the past, helped to fuel speculation that Bert and Ernie are gay.
In June 2010, Sesame Street producers sent out a Twitter message from Bert, commenting that his hair was “a little more ‘mo,’ a little less ‘hawk'” — “mo” is an often used slang term for homosexual, and LGBT bloggers jumped on the reference and reported it widely.