Cartoon Network is adding two nonbinary characters to one of its children’s shows, prompting both complaints and notes of support online.
The nonbinary characters will appear in an upcoming episode of the network’s animated series, “We Baby Bears,” which will also feature a discussion about pronoun usage, .
The episode, titled “Polly’s New Crew,” sees the three bears reuniting with their old friend, Polly the Pirate Captain, whom they must save from a pirate curse. With the help of their friend Box, the three bears board the ship, where some characters introduce themselves.
“I am the great Winnifred: She/her, actor extraordinaire” one says.
“Our crew also has a new addition,” says one of the bears. “Meet Box. They use they/them pronouns, and they make an exceptionally good quiche.”
Polly the Pirate Captain then shares that they use they/them pronouns, too.
In discussing the new episode, the show team shared they felt it was important to include they/them pronouns in “We Baby Bears” after a few crew members came out as nonbinary during production.
“Our show team values representation because it’s something everybody on the show deeply cares about, and that’s why we aim to cast LGBTQ talent,” the team member said to GLAAD.
This isn’t the first time Cartoon Network, or even this show, has been inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community.
On Transgender Day of Visibility in March, Cartoon Network tweeted to celebrate the journey of “our trans and gender-non-conforming friends.”
“Addressing someone using their pronouns and name shows that you RESPECT them as their authentic self!” .
The network has also regularly featured LGBTQ+ characters in its programming, including a May episode of “We Baby Bears” featuring trans actress Dominique Jackson. Nonbinary characters have also been featured on the network, including in shows like “Craig of the Creek” and “Summer Camp Island.”
Still, the announcement of new nonbinary characters drew some criticism online.
One Twitter user said, “Be aware that they are targeting your young kids. Sheer manipulative evil.” Another said, “They’re going after our kids at every angle!”
But others showed signs of support, with one Twitter user saying, “Pride Month rules, and so do all the awesome LGBT people on the We Baby Bears crew that make it beautiful and amazing.”
The new episode “Polly’s New Crew” airs Saturday, June 17 at 10 a.m. ET.