By Christian Toto, featuring Julie Gunlock, director of Independent Women’s Forum’s Center for Progress and Innovation

When a PBS station featured “Lil Miss Hot Mess” reading from the performer’s new book “The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish” last month, on a program aimed at children ages 3 to 8, the backlash was immediate, with a video of the reading going viral on conservative social media.

Parents and activists who endorse today’s message-laden TV fare say it continues the didactic mission of classic kids shows such as “Sesame Street” and “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” by teaching the eternal values of kindness and empathy in a modern setting.

But other parents and conservative activists aren’t having it. “Modern entertainment in no way reflects Mr. Rogers’ lessons of being a good person,” says Julie Gunlock, the Center for Progress and Innovation director for the conservative-oriented Independent Women’s Forum.

Gunlock agrees, arguing conservatives are hopelessly outnumbered in this cultural fight.

“The left owns everything having to do with entertainment … music, movies, TV, fashion, magazines, TV talk shows, morning TV, etc. There’s just no way in,” says Gunlock, whose group promotes limited government, economic liberty and personal responsibility.

She says today’s children’s programming does more than insert socially aware themes into shows. It consciously tries to “redefine the family beyond mom, dad, siblings.”

“Some shows for very young children are still wholesome and worth watching,” Gunlock says, citing “The Berenstain Bears.” “Many promote content I don’t want my kids hearing about or gross behavior I don’t want my kids to mimic.”

Toward that end, Gunlock recommends parents visit Common Sense Media, a comprehensive website detailing the amount of violence, sexuality and profanity in a given show or film.

Gunlock also recommends parents either “actively check in” with what their children are watching or just steer clear of modern kid’s programming entirely to ensure young ones don’t get politically charged messaging.

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