Gay characters on TV: ABC Family, The CW lead the way

glaad-pretty-little-liars.jpgABC Family was the most gay-inclusive network on TV in the 2010-11 season, according to an annual survey by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

The cable channel, whose breakout show "Pretty Little Liars" has a lesbian character -- Shay Mitchell's Emily -- among its four leads, received an "excellent" rating in GLAAD's fifth annual Network Responsibility Index, released Wednesday morning (Aug. 3). The survey tracks the "quantity, quality and diversity of images" of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters in primetime.

ABC Family is the second network to receive an excellent rating, following MTV last year. Of the 103 hours of original programming GLAAD surveyed on ABC Family, it found 55 percent of those hours included "LGBT-inclusive" images.

"Programs like 'Pretty Little Liars' and 'Greek' have woven gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters into their stories in a way that mirrors the diversity of our community and the experiences of younger generations," GLAAD senior director of programs Herndon Graddick says. "Viewers expect to see television environments that accurately reflect what it's like to be a young adult, and today that includes young adults who happen to be gay."

"We're proud of our programming and grateful for the recognition from GLAAD," ABC Family president Michael Riley says. "We strive to reflect the rich diversity of our audience and the world around us, including the LGBT community, through strong characters and engaging, authentic storytelling."

Several other cable networks -- Showtime, TNT, HBO, Lifetime, AMC and Syfy -- all received "good" ratings, GLAAD's second highest designation. USA improved from "failing" to "adequate" in 2010-11.

Among the broadcast networks, The CW, FOX and ABC all scored "good" ratings, with The CW having the highest percentage of LGBT-inclusive programming (33 percent). CBS and NBC both earned "adequate" ratings.

GLAAD has the full report online.
Photo/Video credit: ABC Family