NEW YORK—A spokesperson for the letter D announced Monday that the consonant is withdrawing sponsorship from Sesame Street following a Children's Television Workshop announcement that a homosexual muppet will soon join the show's cast.
"The letter D is proud to have brought you many wonderful Sesame Street episodes throughout the program's 28-year history," said Patricia Willis, public-relations director for D. "But the letter D does not condone the sort of morally questionable lifestyles that Sesame Street is advocating with the introduction of this new character. It can no longer in good conscience associate itself with the show."
Willis said D's withdrawal is effective immediately, and applies to both capital and lower-case versions of the letter.
The gay muppet, "Roger," will be introduced on Sesame Street Dec. 23, CTW director Leslie Charren said. Thus far, no other sponsors have pulled out, though the number seven has requested an advance tape of the episode before it makes a decision.
Many public-television insiders believe D's withdrawal was motivated by a desire not to alienate religious conservatives, a section of the population that employs the letter frequently.
"D is for, among other things, demagoguery, dogma and doctrine, words crucial to right-wing groups like the Christian Coalition," said Yale University political-science professor J. Wright Franklin. "It is likely that D felt it could ill afford to offend such a large segment of its users."
While a long-term replacement for D has not yet been secured by Sesame Street, the number three will temporarily fill in for it in a number of the show's animated shorts. Other pieces will simply skip from C to E, with vocalists stretching out C into two syllables to match the rhythm of the alphabet song.
Sesame Street is stung by the sudden departure of its longtime supporter. Speaking to reporters, cast member Cookie Monster said: "Me disappointed letter D choose to end relationship with Sesame Street due to pressure from extremely vocal minority. We accused of endorsing deviant lifestyle. Me say homosexuality natural, not immoral. Diversity and enrichment. That's good enough for me."