Posted: September 19, 2018

Are Bert and Ernie gay? 'Sesame Street' weighs in on ex-writer's comments


By Michelle Ewing, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

The nonprofit organization behind the beloved children's show "Sesame Street" is weighing in on a question that has sparked debates for decades: Are Bert and Ernie a gay couple?

The answer: Nope, they're puppets, Sesame Workshop said in a statement Tuesday.

>> ‘Sesame Street’ theme park Sesame Place becomes first in the world to get autism certification

"As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends," the statement said. "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 characteristics (as most 'Sesame Street' Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."

Hours later, the organization added: "'Sesame Street' has always stood for inclusion and acceptance. It's a place where people of all cultures and backgrounds are welcome. Bert and Ernie were created to be best friends, and to teach young children that people can get along with those who are very different from themselves."

>> See the tweets here

The comments came days after former "Sesame Street" writer Mark Saltzman gave a much different answer to the same question.

"I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were," Saltzman, who wrote for the show in the mid '80s through the late '90s, said in an article published Sunday by gay news site Queerty. "I didn't have any other way to contextualize them."

Saltzman said he drew from experiences with his own partner, Arnold Glassman, while writing some of the sketches. Glassman died in 2003.

>> Read more trending news 

"I don't think I'd know how else to write them but as a loving couple," Saltzman added.

Saltzman's comments quickly went viral on social media, drawing both praise and criticism.

Frank Oz, who created Bert, soon offered his own take.

"It seems Mr. Mark Saltzman was asked if Bert & Ernie are gay," Oz tweeted Tuesday afternoon. "It's fine that he feels they are. They're not, of course. But why that question? Does it really matter? Why the need to define people as only gay? There's much more to a human being than just straightness or gayness."

>> See the tweet here

Saltzman later told The New York Times that his remarks to Queerty had been misunderstood.

"As a writer, you just bring what you know into your work," he told the Times

"Somehow, in the uproar, that turned into Bert and Ernie being gay," he added. "There is a difference."

Read more here.


Related

Matthew Simmons/Getty Images

Are Bert and Ernie gay? 'Sesame Street' weighs in on ex-writer's comments

Matthew Simmons/Getty Images

Are Bert and Ernie gay? 'Sesame Street' weighs in on ex-writer's comments

Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie ride the "Music Makes us Family" float in the 116th Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1, 2005, in Pasadena California. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
‘Sesame Street’ theme park Sesame Place becomes first in the world to get autism certification

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for HBO

‘Sesame Street’ theme park Sesame Place becomes first in the world to get autism certification

Sesame Place, an amusement park based on the show “Sesame Street,” has made history as the first autism-certified theme park in the world.

Newsweek reported that the certification came from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, which provides autism training for processionals and educators. The certification, announced April 2, during Autism Awareness month, makes Sesame Place a Certified Autism Center.

>> Read more trending news 

The certification means that employees have specialized training that makes sure they have knowledge, skills, temperament and expertise to work with all children. Employees have to repeat the training every two years.

“IBCCES works with leading travel destinations to create safe, sensory-compatible travel options for parents and individuals on the spectrum,” IBCCES Board Chairman Myron Pincomb, said in a statement. “Our Certified Autism Center designation is awarded to premier organizations around the globe that have completed rigorous training and meet the highest industry standards.”

The timing of the certification comes nearly a year after Julia, a “Sesame Street” Muppet with autism, made her debut at the park as a walkaround character.

Related: Chuck E. Cheese expands ‘Sensory Sensitive Sundays’ for children with autism, other special needs

“As the first theme park in the world to complete the training and become a CAC, Sesame Place is better equipped to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs,” Sesame Place park president Cathy Valeriano said in a statement.Quiet rooms, noise-cancelling headphones and low sensory areas, including low sensory parade viewing, are among the resources offered to families and children with special needs. The park also has a ride accessibility program that matches the abilities of guests to the requirements of each ride at the park.

Sesame Place opens for the season April 28 at 10 a.m. More information on the park can be found at SesamePlace.com.

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