LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The Disney Channel is set to introduce a gay storyline for the first time, it said on Thursday (Oct 26), as a teenage character in one of its shows struggles with his sexuality.
The season two premiere of Andi Mack, which airs Friday in the US, will see best friends Andi (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) and Cyrus (Joshua Rush) admit they are attracted to the same boy.
The coming-of-age show - created by Sex And The City writer Terri Minsky - revolves around 13-year-old girl Andi, who is trying to determine where she fits in and the many ways she can live her life.
"Andi Mack is a story about tweens figuring out who they are," a Disney Channel spokeswoman said.
"Terri Minsky, the cast and crew take great care in ensuring that it's appropriate for all audiences and sends a powerful message about inclusion and respect for humanity."
In the season opener, Andi is hoping for her parents to get married as she sorts out her feelings for classmate Jonah.
Meanwhile Cyrus, also 13, begins to realise he also has feelings for Jonah, embarking on a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance as a gay teenager.
"Andi Mack gives young people and their parents, mentors, and champions a meaningful way to talk about these topics and the power to decide their futures," Rush posted on Instagram.
"I'm so proud to bring Cyrus' groundbreaking storyline to life and for you to see what we've been working on."
The Walt Disney Company added in a statement that its brand has always been about "stories that reflect acceptance and tolerance and celebrate the differences that make our characters uniquely wonderful in their own way."
It won't be the first time an LGBTQ character has appeared on the Disney Channel - an episode of Good Luck Charlie featured a lesbian couple in 2014 - but it is the first time the network has made coming out a central storyline.
Disney was applauded by viewers earlier this year after airing its first ever same-sex kiss, on Disney XD's animated series Star vs The Forces Of Evil.
But the company's first-ever gay character was LeFou in this year's live action version of Beauty And The Beast, played by Josh Gad.
"With more and more young people coming out as LGBTQ, Andi Mack is reflecting the lives and lived experiences of so many LGBTQ youth around the country," said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of American lobby group GLAAD, formerly the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.