Since 1986, the American Girl doll has risen to become a near-staple of American childhood. Originally produced by Pleasant Rowland and her Pleasant Company and now by toy manufacturing giant Mattel, the dolls portray 8 to 11-year-olds girls of various ethnicities, each accompanied by a set of books told from the viewpoint of the individual American Girl.
But in December 2020, American Girls made an announcement that seemed innocent enough: The company's 2021 "Girl of the Year" is a 10-year-old from Michigan named Kira Bailey who travels to Australia. But what the company didn't say in its press release or official tweet, both of which emphasized wildlife rescue, was that Kira's storyline includes a lesbian couple.
Meet Kira Bailey! The 2021 Girl of the Year loves ALL animals. She gets to feed a joey kangaroo and cuddle a koala, but she also teaches girls about being responsible and respecting the Earth. Discover more about Kira: https://t.co/WHifqBaa7v pic.twitter.com/cafxTLEDJd— American Girl (@American_Girl) December 31, 2020
Kira's accompanying book Kira Down Under tells the story of her visit to an animal sanctuary in Australia operated by her great-aunts Mamie and Lynette, who are in a same-sex marriage. In the book, she explains that her aunts married "after the law was changed to allow it," referring to Australia's 2017 decision to legalize gay marriage.
A blog post on the American Girl website gives more information:
It's now 2021. It's only been legal for same-sex couples to marry for five years (and even less than that in Australia), yet LGBT people have existed forever. Like Mamie and Lynette, for example. They were in love even before Kira was born, yet their love couldn't be recognized and wasn't widely accepted until a few short years ago. But American Girl- and Erin Teagan, the author of Kira's books- decided to tell their story and show the world that the LGBT community exists, and I am beyond grateful.
But not everyone responded to the news of Kira's storyline with such enthusiasm. Kimberly Fletcher, president and founder of Moms for America, shared the following statement with Charisma News:
My daughter grew up with American Girl dolls. She not only had the Josefina doll, she watched all the movies, read all the books and learned the stories of America's history and heritage while developing strong moral values. It is heartbreaking to learn that such a trusted and cherished franchise has given in to feminist lies and deception, destroying yet another valuable support for mothers raising children. My daughter was heartbroken when the franchise decided to "retire" Felicity, the doll from the Revolutionary era. Felicity and her love of country continue to live in our house, and we encourage mothers everywhere to keep those stories alive and stand firmly for truth in a world of lies. Our daughters and sons need a firm foundation in all that is good, true and beautiful to stand strong in the world they are growing up in. Sadly, American Girls has chosen to abandon that legacy we once embraced.
And an Amazon reviewer noted, in a post headed "Inappropriate for young girls":
My daughter purchased Kira on January 1 and was super excited to be one of the first to own the new doll for 2021. In her book, Kira visits her aunt in Australia. Unfortunately, as my daughter began to read the book she read that Kira's aunt is married to another woman. Homosexuality is an inappropriate topic for a children's book and I am very disappointed that it was woven so blatantly into the story line for Kira. This type of content should have been made clear in the advertising so that I as a parent could make an informed choice for my child. My daughter and I have read dozens of American Girl books and have always loved them and highly recommended them to friends. Before now, I have never had to worry about American Girl reading material being wholesome for my child. My daughter had no idea what a lesbian couple is and American Girl has cruelly taken away part of her innocence now that I've had to explain about that lifestyle. It goes against what I believe as a Christian and was not something I wanted my daughter to be exposed to at this early age. I am very, very disappointed in Americans Girl and will not purchase their products in the future.
And another reviewer, without addressing the book from a faith and values perspective, considers the "mature storyline" inappropriate for young readers:
My daughter was so excited to read this book, but it ended up going back the same day we received it. The storyline is inappropriate and far too mature for young readers. While we teach kindness to all in our family, there are things that elementary-age little girls do not need to be exposed to, and this book blatantly introduces very mature topics. We have always loved American Girl books and products and I have never had to worry about previewing them for content before. However, we will not be purchasing Kira or any of her books, and I'm not sure we will be reading American Girl books in the future. American Girl needs to remember that their audience is young children, not adults!
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