My son and I share a huge passion for television and movies. Before the health crisis, we often went to our local theater once a week, taking turns picking out what we would see.
We love sharing TV shows together, and the parameters I’ve set for what he is and isn’t allowed to watch could be described as liberal by some. I think the media we consume with our kids can definitely impact how our kids see the world, and that’s one reason I often look for family-friendly shows that celebrate LGBTQ stories, characters, and real-life people.
My kid is 11 now, and there’s almost nothing that I wouldn’t let him watch as long as I’m there with him.
We just finished watching the entirety of Schitt’s Creek (which we both loved; our greatest aspiration is to grow to be Moira and David), and we also happily watch Queer Eye when we get a chance.
While I think both of those shows are definitely family-friendly, not every family is necessarily ready for them. That’s OK! Here are 10 family-friendly shows that celebrate and uplift LGBTQ stories, people, and characters, along with the age group the show is most appropriate for. The target age recommendations have all been sourced from Common Sense Media, but I always encourage parents to make decisions that most accurately apply to their own children.
1. 'She-Ra and the Princesses of Power'
Netflix has remade the classic She-Ra series, and the result is pretty extraordinary in terms of LGBTQ representation and celebration. For starters, the main character of the show is in a queer relationship, which is still quite groundbreaking, especially for a popular television show on a huge streaming platform. On top of that, the relationship is a huge part of the show, so it can’t be easily dismissed.
Target ages: 7 and up
2. 'Schitt's Creek'
My 11-year-old son and I started watching Schitt’s Creek together earlier this year, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made. The show tackles a ton of subjects, including pansexuality, gender expression, and LGBTQ relationships. We laughed, we cried, one of us felt represented, and we had amazing conversations about each of these topics. I can guarantee neither of us will forget this experience, and I am eternally grateful to Dan Levy for dreaming up the show in the first place.
Target ages: 14 and up
3. 'Queer Eye'
When I first heard that Queer Eye was being rebooted, I was excited and curious: How would it be different? How would it be the same? It turns out that the answer to the former is in almost every single way. We hopped on board the Queer Eye train with season three and haven’t looked back. The show is honestly one of the most heartwarming things I’ve ever watched with my son, and I love that it offers both a wide range of experiences (with the people the team helps) and the LGBTQ experience (with the five main stars).
Target age: 14 and up
4. 'One Day at a Time'
I had zero exposure to the original series, so this Netflix update was brand new to me when I started watching it with my son a few years ago. He was young — 8 or 9 — but the show gave us the opportunity to open up the conversations we were already having at home and to give them more nuance. The show tackles so much: racism, sexism, gentrification, ageism, and LGBTQ representation. The actors are genuinely prolific, and they handle each of these issues with grace and a deftness that isn’t often seen in family programming.
Target age: 12 and up
5. 'Steven Universe'
My kid is the one who first found and started watching Steven Universe. I didn’t really grasp how exceptionally amazing the show really is at first, but once I sat down to watch an episode with him I quickly understood. The writing is really incredible, and somehow the team has managed to put together a cartoon that just about everyone can love, no matter how old or young. Two characters, Ruby and Sapphire, openly celebrate their relationship in a way that is just pure and natural, which is exactly the kind of LGBTQ representation that kids need.
Target age: 10 and up
6. 'Adventure Time'
Adventure Time has been around for what feels like forever, and I mean that in a good way! The show definitely tackles a ton of ideas and issues in a way that is palatable for its audience. While it took until 2018 to confirm the actual nature of the relationship between Princess Bubblegum and Marceline the Vampire Queen, fans of the show were definitely not disappointed.
Target age: 10 and up
My son has been raised on PBS. Everyone in our home is a big fan of the network and more or less everything it has ever produced, and this is certainly true for the animated series Arthur. While there’s not a lot of overt LGBTQ representation throughout the series, the season 22 premiere episode where Mr. Ratburn gets married is truly incredible.
Target age: 5 and up
8. 'My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic'
The team behind My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic decided to debut the show’s first openly gay characters during Pride Month in 2019. The characters, Aunt Holiday and Auntie Lofty, were confirmed as lesbians by the show’s writer and producer.
Target age: 5 and up
9. 'Sesame Street'
If there’s one show that is generally celebrated as a beacon of light, hope, and education, it’s got to be Sesame Street. Somehow, the show’s team has managed to open up conversations about fun and tough topics for decades, and they’ve created a super-safe space for parents and children to have their own conversations at home. When Bert and Ernie were confirmed as gay and in a relationship in 2019, people around the world celebrated the news.
Target age: 3 and up
10. 'Modern Family'
When Modern Family debuted in 2009, the show immediately lit a fire for LGBTQ families around the world. Cam and Mitchell, two central characters in the series, are two men who are married and planning to have a baby together. It was pretty novel to have this portrayed so naturally on TV in 2009, and the show still holds up years later.
Target age: 13 and up