This article first appeared in Equality magazine. Read the most recent issue at hrc.org/magazine.
When actor T. R. Knight was growing up, he didn’t have many shows that featured positive representations of LGBTQ people.
Today, in “The Bravest Knight,” Hulu’s animated children’s series about a child who discovers their bravery, Knight is the voice of one of her two loving dads.
“I think being a part of something that shares a message of love and inclusion… I think anyone would’ve accepted that opportunity,” Knight told Equality.
“The Bravest Knight,” based on Daniel Errico’s children’s book of the same name, spotlights a two-dad family and highlights the intersections of being same-sex parents of a multicultural family formed through adoption. Ellen Kahn, HRC’s senior director of programs and partnerships, said this type of representation is important to children with different family structures and backgrounds.
“It’s a very affirming story for kids who were adopted by parents of a different race or ethnicity. The greater the diversity of families and people we see as we grow up, the more possibilities we see for ourselves,” Kahn told Equality.
HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools program worked with the show’s creators to develop the characters and help them navigate a variety of topics about their family structure and the adoption theme.
“The folks behind the creation of ‘The Bravest Knight’ are very committed to diversity and inclusion, and that’s why they choose projects such as this show,” Kahn said. “They were very committed to telling this story in the right way, so we helped them shape a language that strikes the right chord with regard to family diversity.”
Like Knight, many of the characters are voiced by people who are part of the HRC family, and the broader LGBTQ community.They include former HRC Foundation youth ambassador Jazz Jennings, Latinx actor Wilson Cruz, Wanda Sykes, RuPaul and more.
For Knight, working on a series such as this has been a dream of his. The project is even more meaningful, he says, because he understands the importance of normalizing representations of LGBTQ people on TV — especially for LGBTQ youth who may be struggling with a lack of acceptance within their own families.
“There are a lot of steps forward to make up for all of the sins in the past, and in every part of the country, it's still rough… [it depends on who runs each] household, and whether they have closed hearts which are full of fear and not accepting, and that’s death for a child,” Knight said.
Ensuring that LGBTQ youth are included, supported and encouraged to thrive is why HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools program uses books and lesson plans, and highlights other mediums — including programs like “The Bravest Knight” — to help schools embrace diverse families, create LGBTQ- and gender-inclusive schools, prevent bias-based bullying and support transgender and non-binary students.
Kahn encourages families to watch “The Bravest Knight” together and have conversations about it, and to let teachers and other educators know about it as well.
“If kids are only exposed to a limited slice of who we are, whether it's about our gender, race, ethnicity or cultural and religious backgrounds… If kids are not really exposed to broad diversity, they won’t necessarily be as equipped when they go out to the world to navigate schools, workplaces or even the overall community once they get older,” Kahn said.
A show such as “The Bravest Knight” is a way for the younger generation to see what might be possible, whether you’re a part of the LGBTQ community or not.
“It’s a very simple story, and yeah, it looks different from what we’re used to seeing,” Knight said. “I hope that people are open to receive that.”
To learn more about supporting LGBTQ youth in their homes, schools and communities, visit WelcomingSchools.org.