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Friday, January 28, 2005

Buster the bunny pops on his backpack, visits lesbian family and starts row

The Guardian
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Friday January 28, 2005

To the untrained eye, Buster is just a bunny, an innocuous cartoon character on American educational television. Each week the animated rabbit puts on his red backpack and trainers to visit a slice of real America - dropping in on a native Indian reservation in Wyoming, or maybe a Hispanic family in Los Angeles and sending a video postcard of the event to his friends.

The series, designed to show the diversity of the modern family to primary school children, is produced with $100m (£53m) of federal funding by the public television network PBS. It has a mandate to promote tolerance.

But then, Buster Baxter visited a farm in Vermont to learn about harvesting maple syrup. His hosts on Sugartime! were a lesbian couple and their children. Although the parents remained in the background - as they do during all of Buster's travels - their very appearance on children's TV was too much for the education secretary, Margaret Spelling.

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