Monday, May 23, 2016

Many people are concerned about giving hormone blockers to children. An internet forum discussion broached the topic recently, with veteran trans activist, Carol Steele, claiming: "Those [children] that are simply displaying gender variant behaviour will grow out of it and will not even get near to blockers.."

Dave: If only that was true. Unfortunately the BBC and the Tavistock Clinic, in their wisdom, have been propagandising the benefits of blockers to children aged six and upwards

Carol: Absolute hogwash - as well you know Dave. Blockers will not be mentioned to children as young as six - although the parents might be informed of them to prepare them for what is to come and so that they can independently research the risks and benefits.

Blockers are not given until at least Tanner stage 2 (at 12 years old).

These children are assessed many times from the day they enter the clinic, at whatever age, and many children are refused because the clinic veers on the side of being ultra cautious - even though both the children and their parents want them to be prescribed.

Have you ever spoken to any of the clinicians at the Tavi? I have - on a number of occasions.

Dave: Have you ever heard of a CBBC programme called I Am Leo which is aimed at 6-12 year old children?

Carol: Have you ever considered what a fight you would have on your hands if you even attempted to put a dress on a young boy of 6 or 7 and send him to school like that?

Stop using faux arguments Dave and look at the reality of the situation instead.

Dave: If you check out the I Am Leo programme which, as I said, is aimed at 6-12 year old children, you will see Dr Polly Carmichael from the Tavistock Clinic talk about the use of hormone blockers. So, I hope you accept it was not hogwash, but fact.

I take it from your "absolute hogwash" response that you think it was improper to mention hormone blockers to such young and vulnerable children?

Unfortunately Carol was unwilling to accept that six year olds had, in fact, been informed about using hormone blockers by the Tavistock Clinic in conjunction with the BBC

Friday, April 15, 2016

Gender confusion

Last November the BBC broadcast a documentary which, amongst other things, claimed that "there are an estimated 300-500 thousand people classed as transgender living in Britain." That number seemed excessive, so Newsround Blog investigated further. The programme in question, "How Straight Am I?" was made for the BBC by Roughcut TV, so I emailed them on 12th November -

Just watched your programme "How Straight Am I?" presented by Tyger Drew-Honey. After about 30 minutes into the programme Tyger mentioned that there are an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people classed as transgender living in Britain.

Please could you clarify what Tyger meant by "classed as transgender" - does it mean self-identify as transgender, or something else? Also could you let me know the source of the estimated figure?

Roughcut replied on 23rd November. They didn't explain what Tyger meant by "classed as transgender" but they did cite the source as

It turns out that the 300-500 thousand estimate was made by GIRES, which is basically a transgender-promoting charity. The figure arrived at was not, as you might expect, the number of people who want to swap gender. It is simply an estimate of the number of people who don't conform to gender stereotypes. So, for example, girls who love to play football might easily come under their catch-all definition.

The GIRES estimate is misleading. But why is this happening? It is because some people are deliberately trying to blur the distinction between gender and sex. So, for the purposes of promoting the concept of a large trans population, all those who don't conform with traditional rigid male and female stereotypes come under the 'trans' umbrella.

One of the consequences of this approach is that it could lead some vulnerable gender-non-conforming children into believing they're "trans"

The BBC documentary My Life: I Am Leo is an example of how things can be made worse. The programme's executive producer, Kez Margrie, said she wanted to do a story on a transgender child because "there are kids out there having a tough time." Of course some kids do have a hard time. But the vast majority of those kids do not change gender - and quite a lot of them might be lesbian, gay or bisexual . And yet nowhere in the apparently well-intentioned documentary is there any mention of these words, or of issues around sexual orientation.

In the rush to accommodate a minuscule number of transgender children it seems there is a real danger of much larger groups falling by the wayside. And this problem of LGB-erasure isn't only noticeable on children's TV - even organisations set up to challenge homophobia seem to be kowtowing to the trans agenda.

An Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH) video was released in time for this year's Trangender Day of Visibility. But nowhere does it broach the topic of sexual orientation. Furthermore this EACH document could give teachers and kids the impression that homophobia is to be taken less seriously than transphobia. You will notice, for example, that Tr*nny is the only term of abuse which has been censored. Homophobic words are printed in full throughout the document. I have tackled EACH about this, and am awaiting their response.

See also Bigoted or Brave? A Response to CBBC

Thursday, April 14, 2016

CBBC Newsround science blunder

A report on Newsround yesterday morning contained several mistakes, the most serious of which was that a future starship will travel at 100 million miles per second.

Newsround suggests the future starship will travel faster than light

I informed CBBC Newsround's editor, Lewis James, about the mistake. My message wasn't acknowledged but the blunder was edited out of the website version of their report. At the time of writing other less serious errors, including the distance to Pluto, are still there.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Newsround Blog rarely had a good word to say about The Next Step, and from what we've seen so far, the same looks true for its spin-off series: Lost & Found Music Studios. In episode 1, first broadcast by CBBC last Monday, we saw the introduction of some of the main characters and relationships.

The series largely goes along with gender stereotypes. At the very start, for example, the boys were playing in a band whilst a group of girls bopped up and down to the music - not difficult to picture if you've ever seen some of those old Top of the Pops shows on the BBC.

Next we found out about some of the main characters' crushes. Songwriter Leia has a huge crush on Luke. Luke's friend John has a crush on Michelle, but is too shy to tell her about his feelings. John has written a love song all inspired by her, but is worried Michelle doesn't feel the same way. Luke sings the song at the party that evening, intending to call over John to join in half-way through. But his plan goes awry when Leia mistakenly assumes Luke wrote the song, and that he's performing it for her. Luke then reveals that the song was written by John.

After the performance Michelle asks Luke if he knows who the song was about. Luke tells her that she would need to ask John that question. John is hiding nearby and hears the conversation. But by the time we get to episode 2, it seems the writers forgot what happened in episode 1 -

John (narrating): Yesterday, Luke played a love song that I wrote for Michelle. She knew that I wrote it, but she didn't know it was about her. When Michelle came to talk to me after the show I had no idea what to do.

John (speaking to Luke): So let me get this straight. You told Michelle that I wrote the song for Theo.

Luke: Yeah.

John: She's supposed to believe that I wanted to have my heart broken by Theo?

Luke: Yeah - it's like a, you know, a bromance thing!

Any suggestion of one boy having a crush on another boy was quickly dismissed. So it's not surprising that BBC children's TV has been accused of homophobia and LGB-erasure. I've asked the Director of BBC Children's whether there are any plans to make CBBC more inclusive.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

My Life: I Am Leo is, as we've discussed in earlier blog entries, an example of how not to make children's TV. Nevertheless the programme has won yet another TV award. This time it is the International Emmy® Kids Awards @MIPTV. The award was handed to Leo, yesterday, at a glitzy ceremony in Cannes, France.

Catriona Lewis of Nine Lives Media was also there.

Leo Waddell with Cat Lewis in Cannes

Ms Lewis says that BBC children's TV hasn't yet made a documentary about an LGB kid because of the difficulty of tackling "sexual attraction" for an audience of 6 to 12-year-olds.

Newsround Blog is unclear as to whether UK licence payers footed the bill for Cat and Leo's attendance in Cannes.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Today is Transgender Day of Visibility.

The BBC, including BBC children's TV, has done a lot to promote transgender people. This video, for example, sees Leo Waddell self-identify as transgender before giving tips on how to deal with bullying.

But the situation on BBC children's TV is somewhat different when it comes to lesbian, gay or bisexual kids.

This failure to even acknowledge LGB people was evident in the My Life: I Am Leo documentary. Leo flew to Scotland to meet Natalie, who, by the way, had already appeared another BBC documentary called 'Coming Out Diaries'

Leo: (narrating) The scary flight was worth it - Natalie is really nice. She's transgender, like me; only the other way round. Natalie was born in a boy's body, but lives as a 20-year-woman. Some of her family haven't accepted her, and I want to find out what that's like.

Leo: When did you know you were transgender?

Natalie: Probably around 15. I knew a little bit earlier. I mean since I was 5 I always felt a little bit different - a bit iffy with everything. But I didn't know what transgender was until I was 15.

Leo: How was your mum when you first came out?

Natalie: My parents found out while I was getting bullied a school. They thought maybe I was just hanging out with the wrong people, maybe it was just a phase. Without the support of my family it made me worse. ....

Although Leo and his mum had been specially flown to Scotland, the interview with Natalie lasted only a few seconds and we weren't given the opportunity to find out more about the nature of that bullying, and, in particular was homophobic language involved?

The fact that I Am Leo avoided any mention of LGB-related terms suggests anti-gay attitudes are still the order of the day in the BBC children's department. That charge will remain valid until the person in charge, Alice Webb affirms and supports kids who self-identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Royal Television Society, according to its current CEO, Theresa Wise, has a strong orientation towards young people, particularly students and those endeavouring to get into and get on in television.

The RTS is clearly set on its members' interests and helping people get jobs in TV. High-quality TV seems to be a lesser priority. Take, for example, the RTS Programme Awards, announced at a ceremony last Tuesday.

The three programmes nominated for Best Children's Programme were

Lily's Driftwood Bay: Goodbye Seabird
The Dumping Ground
My Life: I Am Leo

Lily's Driftwood Bay is a series of colourful 7-minute long animated stories featuring Lily and her friends. It is aimed at young children, and the nominated episode, Goodbye Seabird broaches the topic of bereavement in an age-appropriate and entirely sensitive way. Of the three nominations, Lily's Driftwood Bay was by far the most deserving of the RTS award. It ill-behoves the Royal Television Society that Lily's Driftwood Bay was not awarded the prize.

Second in line should surely have been The Dumping Ground. The CBBC series is well-meaning and reasonably inclusive, though, as yet, none of the resident kids has identified as lesbian or gay.

The winner of the RTS award went to CBBC's My Life: I Am Leo. The documentary is about a child who was born as a girl, and originally named Lily, but who wants to live as a male called Leo.

CBBC's documentary is, according to RTS, an uplifting piece of TV, but the programme has been criticised by many on the internet and social media. The documentary was problematic, and shouldn't have been nominated for any awards.

One of the main issues is that the programme, with its irresponsible use of pseudoscience, might easily impose or reinforce gender stereotypes on potentially vulnerable gender-non-conforming children, some of whom will be lesbian, gay or bisexual.

A better approach would be to let kids know that gender equality means they don't need to look or behave in any particular way. Gender pigeonholing is anti-diversity and exactly NOT the message BBC children's TV should be promoting.

Leo: "I think I might be in love with Holly Willoughby"

Lastly it's worth pointing out the role of Leo's mum in what is going on. ITV's This Morning has been intent on promoting Leo's story for a while now. In this interview Leo's mum, Hayley, says "If Leo could have had those [hormone blockers] at [age] 9, I would have happily let him have them. As it happened, because he had to start into puberty, I mean he will still have to face a certain amount of surgery ..."

So it seems that, hormone blockers or not, Leo's mum already had her child's future mapped out: He will face surgery when he's older. Anyone could be forgiven for questioning whether that mother really has her child's best interests at heart.

See also: UK CBBC Children’s TV: I Am Leo

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The BBC's 'mission' is to enrich people's lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain. CBBC's My Life documentary series generally meets that aspiration, but one particular episode - I Am Leo - falls short in several ways. Most notably, the programme makers appear to have made a special effort to avoid any discussion of sexual orientation, or even mention of words such as 'lesbian' and 'gay' throughout the entire programme.

So it seems the BBC's mission stops short of honestly informing and educating kids about LGB diversity. In so doing the Corporation is in danger of confusing young children, and potentially causing a great deal of harm, especially if it leads them on a route towards unnecessary invasive surgery and/or lifelong hormone-dependence.

Despite these serious failings, I Am Leo has already won a BAFTA award, which was collected by Leo last year. And now the episode has been nominated for a Royal Television Society award. Lesbian, gay and bisexual exclusion has regrettably become the accepted norm for media organisations.

Leo at the British Academy Children’s Awards award ceremony on 22/11/2015

My Life: I Am Leo is to be repeated twice tomorrow on CBBC (10.20am and 2pm)

See also (Nov 2014): Boy, 13, born in girl's body: 'I want my eggs frozen so I can have children'

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Newsround at 7.40am - Leah: Women and girls are equal to men and boys, and as such should be treated equally - that's the message of International Women's Day.

All three Newsround bulletins today led with a report about International Women's Day and an important equality message. Would have been nice to see Newsround do something similar to give a confidence boost to non-hetero kids during LGBT History Month, but CBBC still comes across as unwilling to support lesbian, gay and bisexual kids.

CBBC has yet to make a documentary about kids growing up gay. As a children's documentary maker recently put it: "the difficulty is that you'd need to tackle sexual attraction which is hard when you're addressing 6-12s"

Sunday, March 06, 2016

A (2014) documentary called I Am Leo - one part of CBBC's extensive My Life series - is amongst the programmes nominated for a Royal Television Society award. I Am Leo received a children's BAFTA last year. Another CBBC series, The Dumping Ground, is also up for an RTS award. The winners will be announced at a star-studded ceremony on 22nd March.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

There were two interesting LGBT-related items on Channel 4 News last week. On Thursday evening there was a debate about the newly-published transgender equality report(pdf) by the HOC Women and Equalities Committee.

And the following evening a news item about the Anglican meeting in which the Primates decided to rebuke the Episcopal Church in the USA for its support of same-sex marriage.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Recently we've seen several controversial incidents involving accusations of homophobia and the broadcast media -

- In November Iain Lee was told to leave the BBC after an interview in which he described his guest as a bigot.

- In December the BBC was criticised for including someone who had made homophobic and misogynist remarks in their Sports Personality of the Year shortlist. The situation was exacerbated when a member of staff, Andy West, was suspended pending an investigation.

- In January, Cartoon Network was pulled up for editing out a same-sex kiss in an episode of Steven Universe. The kiss was shown in the US.

- Also this month, the BBC defended Barry Humphries' remarks about transgendered people. A spokesperson said "Barry Humphries is a freelance presenter for BBC Radio 2 and these are his personal views, which are not reflected in his radio programme."

- Channel 5's latest series of Celebrity Big Brother kicked off on Tuesday evening. The Channel 5 broadcast included a pre-recorded remark by guest Winston McKenzie about how he would cope if there was a "homosexual" in the Big Brother house.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

The first of the BBC's six values states "Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest."

Last year, the BBC and its bosses failed to live up to that promise. Hopefully things will be improve in 2016. Also it would be nice to see BBC Pride do more than just remain silent when gay staff and their rights are put at risk.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

How the BBC misled the public about its Sports Personality of the Year shortlist

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 shortlist was released on 30th November, with this video explaining how the contenders were chosen. You'll see some members of the Panel talk about their experiences:

Dame Mary Peters: That was hard work - it was so difficult to shortlist down because there was so much, so much talent and there were so many to chose from. But I think we got it right in the end.

Jermaine Jenas: It was the first time I've been involved in it, and it was nice to see how the process happens and how in-depth and how much thought goes into it ....

Although the Panel meeting and those interviews took place on Wednesday 18th November, the BBC's shortlist was not actually published until Monday 30th November 2015.

Hazel Irvine on 18th November 2015

Following publication of the shortlist the wording on some BBC web pages was amended to include the following "[Note: On 30 November 2015, the Panel decided to expand the shortlist from 10 to 12 sportspeople]."

BBC Director General, Lord Tony Hall, was asked about the controversial shortlist when he appeared before a Parliamentary Committee on Wednesday 16th December. (video excerpt)

According to Lord Hall, the SPOTY Panel drew up the shortlist and then added two names "after the remarkable weekend" of the Davis Cup and the Tyson Fury victory. When questioned further, he said "the Panel added those two names, the BBC did not." Hall reiterated his position with "Let me assure you that those two names were a decision made by the entire panel." When pressed, and asked about a report in the Belfast Telegraph, he stated that the Belfast Telegraph report was wrong.

Tony Hall: "The Panel decided - and I wasn't present in the Panel discussions - to name him [Tyson Fury] for his extraordinary achievement .. he's been put on that list because of his sporting prowess ."

Since the start of this month Newsround Blog has made its own separate investigation into the circumstances behind the addition of Tyson Fury and Andy Murray.

Contrary to the Note on this web page, there was no Panel meeting on 30th November 2015, or indeed any other meeting of the Panel subsequent to the one on 18th November 2015.

So did Lord Hall set out to consciously mislead the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, or was it simply that he wasn't in possession of the full facts? Unfortunately Tony Hall has form when it comes to telling untruths to Parliament, as is clear from what happened two years ago.

Another serious problem with BBC's Director-General is that, when it comes to diversity, he never seems to show any interest in LGBT equality.

Newsround Blog has been unable to track down any speech by Tony Hall in which he seeks to promote, or even mentions, LGBT inclusion. In contrast he's put considerable effort into helping out black, ethnic minority and disabled people. One of the BBC SPOTY panelists, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, also participates in an Independent Diversity Action Group, chaired by Lord Hall, himself.

The Director-General made clear the importance he gives to free speech. He told the Committee that the BBC "should be a place where people's views can be heard across a range of opinion in all things." However, Andy West, telling the world that he was "ashamed to work for the BBC when it lacks bravery to admit it is making a mistake," soon resulted in him being silenced, silenced and told that he'd be suspended pending an investigation.

Well, Lord Hall, it turns out that you - not Andy West - are the person who, with your falsehoods, has brought discredit upon our national broadcaster. The BBC's plight will be much worse in the event of a Tyson Fury win. But whatever the outcome tonight, Andy West should receive an apology, and be reinstated without further delay.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Lord Tony Hall answers questions from John Nicolson MP on Wednesday 16th December 2015

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

It now seems certain that Tyson Fury will not be removed from the shortlist for this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year. BBC Complaints replied to an enquiry on Saturday 12th December:-
Your complaint has been passed to us by Barbara Slater for us to respond. This is because it should be handled in accordance with the BBC Complaints procedure as defined in the BBC Trust Complaints framework (

We acknowledge your views on the shortlisting of boxer Tyson Fury for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 in light of comments reportedly made in a recent newspaper interview.

To explain, an independent expert panel decided on the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015. You can find full details of the panel on our website at The winner will be decided by a public vote during the live programme which will be broadcast on Sunday 20th December.

Whilst we appreciate that you feel he should not have been shortlisted, the panel included Tyson Fury on the 2015 shortlist on the basis of his sporting achievements, as he became the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. The inclusion of sportspeople on the shortlist does not constitute an endorsement by the BBC of any personally-held views.

Thanks again for getting in touch with us. Please be assured that your views have been registered, and we’ll also make sure all feedback is passed on to the BBC Sports Personality team for their information

My response to Ms Slater on Sunday 13th December:-
a) I am not clear whether or not the Panel were aware of the controversy surrounding comments made by Tyson Fury.

b) The BBC has not denied the veracity of the Belfast Telegraph report, so I assume that his name was indeed added without any deliberations, contrary to the claim by Hazel Irvine that there was a well-agreed consensus.

c) The BBC has now argued in its defence that Tyson Fury was shortlisted "on the basis of his sporting achievements." However according to this SPOTY web page, consideration should be given to the 'impact' over and beyond the sport or sporting achievement in question.

d) Your inclusion of Tyson Fury on the shortlist diminishes the status of the Title. Recently, BBC children's TV has only reported on the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, and has steered clear of news about the main award and its negative associations.

It appears the BBC broke its own rules by shortlisting Tyson Fury. Therefore Belfast journalist Andy West was fully justified in making clear he was ashamed to work for the Corporation. He should be reinstated immediately, and receive an apology for the egregious way he has been treated.

I do not vote in competitions, and don't intend to make an exception merely in the hope that someone other than Tyson Fury will win. To be frank, I believe - and suspect you appreciate - that a win for Mr Fury will be a huge embarrassment for the BBC.

BBC Director General, Lord Tony Hall is due to appear before the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sports Committee tomorrow afternoon, and it's possible he'll be asked more questions about the SPOTY shortlist.

It seems there's a climate of fear at the BBC, exacerbated by the suspension of Andy West. To date BBC journalists appear reluctant to even report news about the treatment of their colleague.

Happier times: Andy reports on the outcome of the gay marriage referendum in Ireland

Andy's mum told MK News that she's proud of him for standing his ground. She said that he's feeling quite stressed and doesn't want to lose his job. BBC Pride has yet to issue a statement.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 takes place in Belfast on Sunday 20th December. Hazel Irvine has provided this helpful video guide explaining how the contenders were shortlisted. Ms Irvine says that being crowned Sports Personality of the Year is potentially the pinnacle of a British sportsman or woman's career.

Hazel Irvine: Not only does it affirm and underline your achievements, it also embeds you, if you like, in the public consciousness.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thomson tells viewers about the diverse sporting backgrounds of the SPOTY selection panel.

Dame Mary Peters: It's been an amazing year and there's been a really strong list of contenders ...

And after the Panel's deliberations --

Dame Mary Peters: .... that was hard work. It was so difficult to shortlist down because there was so much, so much talent, and there were so many to choose from. But I think we got it right in the end.

Jermaine Jenas: It's the first time I've been involved in it, and it was nice to see how the process happens and how in-depth and how much thought goes into these people being nominated ...

Hazel Irvine: Well the panel has met, and there's been a lot of lively discussion about who should, and perhaps should not be on that list. But I think we've come to a consensus - a well agreed consensus ...

About a week later it emerged that there had, in fact, been no discussion of the inclusion of Andy Murray and Tyson Fury on the shortlist. Ms Irvine should have made that clear in her explanation, especially in view of these Terms and conditions which required the Panel to take account of the 'impact' over and beyond the sport or sporting achievement in question.

Many fair-minded people do not think that someone who repeatedly makes homophobic and sexist comments, and who suggested he would murder his sister if she was promiscuous, is the sort of person who deserves to be on the shortlist for an award to embed their 'personality' in the public consciousness.

If the BBC does not remove Tyson Fury from its list of contenders they will be making the biggest mistake since they asked the public to have their say on whether homosexuals should face execution. And now they have the temerity to suspend a member of staff, Andy West, for feeling aggrieved at the way the BBC still treats the concerns of its gay staff and journalists.