Saturday, July 29, 2006

New guidance to help stamp out cyberbullying has been published by the government - and it made the number 1 story on Tuesday's Newsround programme.

Ellie: It's a big problem and it's getting worse. Whether it's by email, text or message boards cyberbullying is making many of your lives a misery. Today the government says it wants it to stop, and has sent out new guidelines to schools. (Cyberbullying report by Laura followed)

The guidance is currently on the DfES website.

Funny how Newsround has always managed to miss bullying stories which are more specifically to do with homophobic bullying. Like in November 2004 when 'Stand Up For Us' was published, last year when they ignored a huge petition to Jacqui Smith, and again this summer when the new 'Spell it Out' DVD was launched.

In a few months the government is due to announce important guidance for dealing with homophobic bullying in schools. Will it be reported by Newsround?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Strangers on a train

Have you ever been on a train journey and thought you recognised someone sitting a few feet away? On Thursday 20 July I felt sure that it was Ian Prince, editor of Newsround, sitting opposite on the Carlisle to London train.

Newsround, that same day included a report about beekeeping by two brothers - David and Daniel. It was probably the report mentioned by Ian Prince in his blog on 1 July, about working with children and animals.

I ought to apologise to Mr Prince because when I began my blog late last year I thought that he was the person to blame for all the discrimination on Newsround.

Now I can see that Mr Prince is just one small cog in a big homophobic machine. He's just following the BBC's Section 28 policy. It's surprising how many BBC staff - gay and straight - are content to simply obey orders without question.

Stonewall's new "You don't have to be homophobic to work here, but it helps!" poster campaign on London Underground trains seems so relevant for BBC staff. Stonewall should extend the campaign to include trains between London and Carlisle.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Section 28 lives on at the BBC

Section 28 never really died on 18 November 2003. It just found itself another home - at the BBC - and a very welcoming home it has proved to be.

Only programmes 'promoting' heterosexual family relationships are allowed on CBBC, and there must be no mention of any other sexuality. Tackling homophobia and homophobic bullying are no go areas for children's TV.

The BBC say there is no policy of discrimination. But if it looks like an elephant and sounds like an elephant, it is an elephant.

The Department for Education and Skills, Department of Health, and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, recommend challenging homophobia at an early age - Key Stage 1 - addressing children's understandings of diversity and difference, different family structures and what it means to be different from others.

Friday, July 21, 2006

BBC Trust

Not a gay ringtone this time, but a gay car.

Dismissing a complaint about Chis Moyles the five member Governors' Programme Complaints Committee said 'gay', in addition to being used to mean 'homosexual' or 'carefree', was often now used to mean 'lame' or 'rubbish'. This is a widespread current usage of the word amongst young people. The Committee was familiar with hearing this word in this context. In broadcasting to an audience of predominantly young people, it was to be expected that Chris Moyles (age 32) would use expressions and words which the listeners used themselves. The Committee believed that, in describing a ring tone as 'gay', Chris Moyles was conveying that he thought it was 'rubbish'.

And last Sunday Jeremy Clarkson (46), without fear of being censured by BBC bosses, agreed with someone who thought a car was gay. And then Clarkson went on to say it was a bit 'ginger beer' (= queer).

So it's nice to think that the BBC governors are leaving the BBC at the end of this year, and the BBC Trust will take over!

But hold on, just what is the BBC Trust and who runs it. Like all trusts it has trustees. And guess what - Richard Tait, the Chair of that five member gay=rubbish committee was one of the very first people appointed to the new BBC Trust.

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport is finalising the BBC's Charter, and the Secretary of State appoints the new trustees.

How can we be sure that we can trust the BBC in future? Let's see if the DCMS reply to my enquiry.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


So Pauline (Wendy Richard) is leaving EastEnders after 21 years, Martin (James Alexandrou) after 10 years. And Sonia (Natalie Cassidy) is taking a break after 12 years.

The BBC defence to Stonewall's 'Tuned Out' report included, amongst other things, listing the dozen or so lgb characters who have appeared in Eastenders in the 21 years since it began - the latest in the list being Naomi.

But surely they have to be kidding. The Naomi/Sonia storyline could hardly be a more clear example of BBC cluelessness when it comes to portrayal of same sex relationships.

Stonewall talked about negative gay stereotypes in their Report, but the BBC didn't want to know and simply dismissed Stonewall's criticisms out of hand - whilst at the same time stifling any discussion of the Report's findings in their current affairs programmes.

The 'High & Low Points' section of Sonia's character profile (blog on 4 June) reveals the truth about her relationship with Naomi. Whereas there are nice things said about her straight relationships with Martin and Jamie, her relationship with Naomi is only seen as a low point - and that information comes from the BBC's own Eastenders website.

The BBC will never get it right until it accepts lgbt youth as a part of British society. It is fighting against the truth: that lesbian, gay, bi and trans people exist. Gay people don't just appear, wreck other people's lives - then disappearing moments later in a puff of smoke.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

That Summer Day

Great - a kids drama dealing with race, religion and bullying.

Jon East, head of CBBC drama and director of 'That Summer Day' said: "It was our duty to represent the voice of our audience and particularly the voice of children as they don't always have the chance to be heard."

Friday, July 07, 2006

No prizes for guessing that Newsround didn't report EuroPride 2006. Of course Newsround also ignored the anti homophobic bullying news this week, and it will continue to marginalise and alienate lgbt kids until the prejudice is rooted out.