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Home / News / Culture Watch / Former Disney child star Cole Sprouse outs company’s sexualization of actors
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Former Disney child star Cole Sprouse outs company’s sexualization of actors

As criticism from within and without Disney grows over its objection to Florida’s anti-sexual grooming law, former Disney child star Cole Sprouse says he saw the sexualization of children first-hand.

Sprouse, now 29, was one of Disney Channel’s biggest stars. He’s blasting the company with accusations of what he said was rampant sexualization of his former female costars.

His accusations could not come at a more important time. Disney has officially come out against the Florida law which empowers parents over issues of sex, gender, and biology in the school setting.

The bill is straightforward in protecting parental rights in regards to their children’s education on matters of sex and gender identity, specifically in the lower grades. And for all children, it requires school districts to not withhold records on children from parents, to not encourage students to keep personal information from parents, and to tell parents if there is a change in the way children are being monitored with regard to their mental health. The law is actually an anti-groomer law, as coined by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw.

That “grooming” has been at work on the sets of Disney’s most popular kids shows and in movies, according to many.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, the former “Suite Life of Zack and Cody” actor said that he has a “very complicated relationship to celebrity culture.”

“I started acting when I was so young that I hadn’t actually attempted, as an adult, to think about if I really enjoyed performance,” the “Riverdale” actor said. “When I returned, I reminded myself that I do very much love the art of acting. But I still have a very complicated relationship to celebrity culture.”

He also argued that becoming a successful child actor or actress is more of a trauma than anything — an idea he only conceived in hindsight as he got older and gained more experience in the entertainment industry.

“My brother and I used to get quite a bit of, ‘Oh, you made it out! Oh, you’re unscathed!’ No,” he insisted. “The young women on the channel we were on [Disney Channel] were so heavily sexualized from such an earlier age than my brother and I that there’s absolutely no way that we could compare our experiences.”

He explained that all of his former female costars “going through that trauma” have had their own unique and troubling experiences with being hypersexualized as a child in Hollywood.

“And every single person going through that trauma has a unique experience. When we talk about child stars going nuts, what we’re not actually talking about is how fame is a trauma,” he reasoned. “So I’m violently defensive against people who mock some of the young women who were on the channel when I was younger because I don’t feel like [they] adequately comprehend … the humanity of that experience and what it takes to recover.”

As for Disney, a leaked video was shared online this week showing a company official talking about its “gay agenda”.

–Metro Voice and wire services

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