If the BBC wanted to suggest that gay people are ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil, they could hardly be doing a better job than they are at the moment with Ben Mitchell from Eastenders. Dozens of tweets after the programme testify to the homophobic hatred engendered by his storyline and character. (see also blog on 22 Jan 2012)
Another BBC drama series, broadcast on Wednesday evenings - Waterloo Road - also includes a gay teen. But there, too, the gay character of Josh Stevenson, though by no means in the same league as Ben Mitchell, is hardly someone teens can look up to.
Why aren't there any positive lesbian and gay role models on BBC TV programmes popular with young people?
In her Report, "Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity," the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is clear that isolation and stigma generate depression and other health problems. The Commissioner says LGBT youth frequently experience violence and harassment, including bullying, in school from classmates and teachers.
Confronting this kind of prejudice and intimidation requires concerted efforts from school and education authorities, and integration of principles of non-discrimination and diversity in school curricula and discourse. The media also have a role to play by eliminating negative stereotyping of LGBT people, including in television programmes popular among young people.