Saturday, September 30, 2006

BBC employment discrimination - part 2

Almost three years ago it became unlawful to discriminate against people at work because of their sexual orientation. That means that employees must be treated in the same way no matter whether they're gay, straight, lesbian or bisexual. The problem with the BBC is that it doesn't seem to believe in, and adhere to the principles of equality and diversity - as can be seen, for example, in the differences in the way Andrew Hayden-Smith and Alex Parks were each interviewed for their star chats in 2003 just before the laws against sexual orientation discrimination came in.

Andrew Hayden-Smith chat video - 7 October 2003.

Alex Parks chat video - 14 November 2003.

Andrew Hayden-Smith, who wasn't "out" as gay at the time, was asked several questions relating to romance, dating and his "love life" - the questions are shown in red on the chat transcript. Alex Parks, on the other hand, was "out" as a lesbian and, although she had said previously in a newspaper interview that she was happy to be a role model, she wasn't asked any similar questions in her star chat.

Paul Smith, the CBBC editorial policy adviser who I contacted this summer, wasn't interested in any apparent evidence of discrimination (blog 3 September 2006), saying he didn't believe the comparison between the interviews was valid. However I think the difference between these "star chats" means it's also quite possible that gay staff aren't treated as equals - especially if they work on CBBC. In 2005 Stonewall's chief executive, Ben Summerskill spoke of a pink plateau in many British workplaces, and in March 2006 wrote that BBC staff were aware of a plateau.

Last May's edition of Attitude included an interview with Andrew Hayden-Smith who had then been out for about a year and a half. Attitude's editor wrote:

So much has been written about gays on television, it seems there’s little left to say. The arguments around representation - too much, too little, the wrong sort, the right sort - seem to recirculate every couple of years, most recently in a widely reported Stonewall survey that, essentially, found the BBC’s gay tally sadly underwhelming. While there’s still someway to go, it certainly seems, to these eyes at least, that things are getting better.....

Andrew spoke in his interview for Attitude about coming out and his role in Dr Who. His character, Jake, was supposed to be in love with Ricky - the parallel universe's Mickey. But in the interview Andrew mentioned not being able to include a kiss because they couldn't push it that far. Andrew said he hadn't come across any homophobia in the BBC. However, for whatever reason he left his CBBC presenting job two months after that interview was published. His departure means that there aren't any openly gay presenters on children's television.

And in June the BBC governors condoned insulting language such as calling a ringtone "gay". This derogatory usage can be said to be directly rooted in homophobia. Subsequently, and in spite of the kerfuffle over the governors' decision, Jeremy Clarkson called a Daihatsu Copen car "gay" and a bit "ginger beer" (queer) on Top Gear.

As to age discrimination - that like the other anti-discrimination laws will outlaw unacceptable language as well as direct discrimination. BBC News recently reported that when it comes to ageist language, employers will have to avoid phrases such as saying an employee is "wet behind the ears."

In the early days of BBC tv, some children's presenters, like Annette Mills and Johnny Morris were much older than the current presenters. In fact, Annette Mills was over 50 when she started presenting Muffin the Mule on 20 October 1946, and Johnny Morris was still presenting a BBC children's programme when he was nearly 70 years old.

But look at CBBC today. How many of its presenters, if any, are over 30 years old? A clear example of age discrimination.

And then there's old-fashioned sexism - revived in programmes like TMi (see last Saturday's blog entry). In a newspaper interview last week, Sam and Mark said they discovered their co-host, Caroline, in a 'dirty skip.' They need to ditch that nasty sexist attitude - and be quick about it.

Many types of discrimination seem to linger on at the BBC. The BBC's Diversity Centre will have its work cut out if BBC senior management doesn't see sense and make it clear immediately that all discrimination is unacceptable.

Friday, September 29, 2006

BBC employment discrimination - part 1

With only a day to go before the new employment regulations to combat age discrimination, in this and the next blog we look at the BBC's own very mixed record on the issues of equality and diversity.

The BBC boasts that it is "a unique institution, owned by the British people and independent of political and commercial interests," and its purpose is "to enrich the life of every person in the UK" - but we uncover the truth: the BBC still discriminates by age, gender and sexual orientation.

On 13 September 2006 Newsround Bias blog discovered evidence of discrimination against older kids. I was so surprised by this that the following day I emailed Newsround's website editor, with a copy to Newsround's editor, asking for an explanation as to why it seemed responses from 15 year olds were being systematically discarded. At the same time I asked why Newsround's website never included lgbt news or gossip, giving, as an example, Matt Lucas's intention to 'tie the knot' with his partner Kevin McGee.

On Friday 22 September 2006 I received an email from the head of CBBC. On the point about lgbt news he said Newsround tries "to avoid coverage of post-watershed celebrities," which explains why the story about Matt Lucas wasn't covered. However I noticed there are some other stories about both Matt Lucas and David Walliams on Newsround's website. But fair enough, I'll just wait longer to see whether they include any gay celebrity news or gossip in the future.

Mr Deverell confirmed that CBBC services discriminate by age, but said that doesn't mean that they completely exclude all children outside the core audience of 6-12 year olds. The BBC, he said, offers other services for kids both older and younger.

In response to what he said about age discrimination, I replied that if Newsround doesn't want to hear from older kids then perhaps the web feedback page should emphasise that, because of the "Creative Future" policy, preference is now given to under 12 year olds. I said it seems older kids aren't receiving the same standard of service from the BBC, and also mentioned the Council of Europe's "all different, all equal" campaign. I added that the British Psychological Society had made clear that young people should not have to put up with homophobic bullying and that it should be combatted from Key Stage 1. Therefore Newsround should not avoid the topic.

The new age discrimination laws have been given a lot of publicity on the BBC news channel. Funny thing is the BBC appears to think it's such a special institution that it doesn't need to obey the same laws itself. British businesses, it reports, are unprepared for the new employment legislation. In part 2 of the blog we see how the BBC is at least as muddled as British businesses.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

TMi - misogyny rules at CBBC

CBBC has seen off Dick and Dom but the new stuff they've dreamt up for Saturday mornings is hardly an improvement. No more jokes about snot and bogeys - the butt of humour now seems to be women. Yes - would you believe that six years into the twenty-first century one half of the human race is still treated as something to laugh at?

TMi is unbalanced - with two male presenters Sam and Mark who are supposed to live in a "Big Brother" style flat, watched 24 hrs a day by tv cameras. Excerpts from the week are shown during the live programme on Saturdays. There is also one female presenter, Caroline, who isn't part of the same living arrangements, and wasn't mentioned by name in the pre-show publicity.

To make matters worse, on the Saturday morning show, Sam and Mark don't miss an opportunity to dress up as women and behave in a ludicrous way. After a week of training, this morning we saw Sam and Mark compete against each other to see who could do the most skips in one minute. When Mark won the skipping competition, he was allowed to choose a forfeit or punishment for Sam. This was to dress as a girl, go out into Leicester Square and make a fool of himself. Sam was told by Mark to "run like the girl that you are."

If the best CBBC can do is rely on old-fashioned and insulting stereotypes, it's time they got in new advisers.

Friday, September 22, 2006

ALL DIFFERENT, ALL EQUAL - European Campaign for Diversity, Human Rights and Participation 2006 - 2007

The aim of this Europe wide campaign is to encourage young people to participate in building societies based on diversity and inclusion, in a spirit of respect, tolerance, and mutual understanding. There are links with the 1995 campaign against racism, anti-semitism, xenophobia and intolerance; to this end, the slogan selected for the Campaign is that of the previous initiative: "All Different, All Equal".

all different - all equal
The partners in organising this campaign are the Council of Europe, mainly the Directorate of Youth and Sport (DYS), the European Youth Forum, and the European Commission. Its activities are being undertaken essentially by young people in partnership with public authorities; the target group of the Campaign is civil society, both at European and national levels. However, the campaign should of course reach out to as many young people in Europe as possible, with a particular focus on those who are victims of discrimination, and in particular through activities involving schools.

This new campaign is aimed to have a wider focus than previous European campaigns on discrimination. It targets not only racial and ethnic intolerance but also discrimination on the basis of someone's beliefs, sexual orientation or ability.

Shortly before the launch of "All Different - All Equal", Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, made a short video outlining the reasons for the campaign, and its aims. At the launch, on 29 June 2006 he said:

"...The youth campaign of 10 years ago condemned discrimination based on ethnic origin and the colour of someone’s skin. This new campaign will have a wider focus. It will target not only racial and ethnic intolerance but also discrimination on the basis of someone’s beliefs, someone’s sexual orientation or someone’s level of physical or mental ability. This wider approach does not mean that racism is no longer a concern. On the contrary: as we know from the reports of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, racism has not vanished from European societies.

"But with our new campaign, we want to denounce all kinds of discrimination - even those very subtle forms which diminish the daily lives of people who are different in some way. Unlike 1995, this is not a campaign "against" but a campaign "for", a campaign to bring our core values - diversity, human rights and participation - closer to the people of Europe.

"These three simple words carry three simple messages:

1) diversity is not only the stuff of life, it is what makes life exciting and challenging
2) human rights are not inborn, they need to be learnt in schools and through youth activities
3) democracy will not live on if the younger generations shy away from public life.

The Youth Campaign will encourage young people to take action against abuses of human rights - to act now, in their towns, through their organisations, through the Internet. ..."

On 13 September 2006 a Report on Social Exclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people was presented to the European Parliament.

Members of the European Parliament (MEP) taking part agreed to draw up a declaration to stop homophobic behaviour in schools. MEPs from the Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights committed to take a lead on this initiative.

The launch of ILGA-Europe's and IGLYO's joint publication on social exclusion of LGBT young people led to concrete promises coming from the European Parliament.

All Different - All Equal cartoon

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It's been suggested that I need to be more careful with the word 'homophobic' because I'm told that Newsround doesn't have "an anti-homosexual agenda, in the sense of perpetrating derogatory beliefs about them." I'm not sure I agree. Maybe Newsround doesn't in itself perpetrate derogatory beliefs, but by not treating people equally and fairly it perpetuates homophobic bullying and the homophobia which exists in so many schools. In the same way, if CBBC Newsround deliberately excluded black news and never had black people on tv or its website, I wouldn't say it was whitenormative - rather I'd say it was racist (Discrimination or prejudice based on race).

The perpetuation of homophobic bullying in schools is not irrelevant to primary school kids, as claimed by Newsround's former editor. The recent ChildLine Casenote (as not properly reported on Newsround) made the relevance perfectly clear. The problem is also covered in a recent study presented to the European Parliament on 13 September 2006. More in the next blog.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

BBC vision and values

The BBC says its vision is to be the most creative organisation in the world. If they mean 'creative' as in the sense of 'creative accounting' then they're getting close to achieving their goal.

Take Dragon's Den - it's a BBC con. The programme deceives the audience into thinking that innovators who impress the "dragons" are clinching deals on tv, and will receive the money they ask for to improve or develop their business plans. In reality only about 30% actually get the dough.

By the time Dragon's Den is aired it's probably known what actually transpired. But the BBC conceals the truth from its viewers.

"Trust is the foundation of the BBC." Looks like its foundations are a bit shaky.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Matters of sexuality, of whatever nature, straight or gay, are not within the remit of CBBC, says Paul Smith, a BBC editorial policy adviser.

If that were true, why, on the first edition of TMi, was a boy asked to guess which celebrity his friend fancied?

And why does CBBC deem this gossip acceptable:

Lindsay Lohan has apparently splashed the cash on her new boyfriend - she's reported to have bought him a £5,000 watch.

But not this:

Little Britain star Matt Lucas is to "tie the knot" with his long-term boyfriend Kevin McGee. The star decided to pop the question in May this year and is reported to be 'absolutely delighted' that his partner said yes.

The answer is that CBBC knowingly discriminates against people who aren't heterosexual, but they never admit to doing it.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

BBC not homophobic (apparently)

One of the best things about writing this blog is the chance to make a wide range of contacts in the media, entertainment, education, psychology and politics. One MP who read my blog said he didn't think the BBC was guilty of discrimination. After all, he said, take gay people out of the Beeb and it would collapse!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mark Thompson's "Creative Future" folly

The advance of Creative Future seems to be unstoppable. Staff in the Corporation are obediently carrying out the boss's orders without thinking of the consequences and how much damage it's doing.

Not so long ago the BBC claimed, under the Diversity banner, that it "aims to offer something for every age group and every cultural group as well as every part of the UK." Newsround's former editor, Ian Prince, was well aware of the concerns of young people about the lack of programmes for secondary school kids. Newsround received a great deal of negative feedback when the BBC announced that Byker Grove was to be axed (See blog 13 May 2006).

Since then Ian Prince has gone, to be replaced by Tim Levell.

Mr Levell has already been dutifully implementing "Creative Future" changes to target a slightly younger audience. However, despite CBBC being targeted at 7-11 year olds, my latest survey of Newsround website feedback shows that more than half of the web responses (around 55%) are from kids aged 12 or over. So the target appears to bear little relation to the ages of actual viewers.

CBBC Newsround website responses - Sept 2006
An even more worrying finding of the latest survey is that, since the Creative Future announcement, it seems that Newsround is simply binning almost all emails from anyone aged 15 or more. The original survey, blogged on 13 April 2006 (about two weeks before Creative Future was unveiled,) showed about 14.4% of quoted feedback came from 15 year olds, but the latest study has the figure down to only 0.4%.

The latest analysis is based on 258 data from four web stories collected up until 12 September 2006 at 5pm. The relevant web pages are What do you think about healthier school meals?,... Back to school: Your thoughts,... What is your town or village famous for?,... September 11 anniversary: Your thoughts.

The difference between the findings of the survey in April and the latest survey is significant. It's extremely unlikely that the reason for the change in responses from 15 year olds is due to chance or differences in the audience demographic over the 5 month period since April. Much more likely is that someone from the production team has been binning feedback from 15 year olds - deliberate age discrimination is the only credible explanation. I wouldn't be surprised if they stop putting ages on some, or all, of the responses in future to try and disguise what's happening.

In 2003 and in the 2004 Charter Review the BBC said it was committed to "universal availability of BBC services". It said that it will continue to ensure that all its services remain universally available and free-to-air." Mark Thompson and his 'yes men' are making a mockery of the commitment.

All changes which are being made at the BBC go against the principle of Diversity. Age limits are more tightly defined, and those considered too old are simply being ignored while the BBC struggles to implement the "Teen Brand." And certainly without free-to-air tv, teens will be treated as second class. The Corporation also discriminates against its workforce - more about that subject in a future blog entry.

As stated previously, I believe one of the purposes of Creative Future has become an excuse to avoid issues of family diversity and inclusiveness. If this is the case the BBC is making yet another mistake. Educationalists believe that these are things which children should start to learn about from Key Stage 1 - a younger age than the new target for CBBC.

The half completed teen website, which is only for girls at the moment, is evidence of more gender stereotyping and shows that the BBC still has no sense of where it's going with its broadband based so-called "Teen Brand." The Teen Brand, if it ever gets off the ground, will clearly breach the BBC's stated commitment that its services remain universally available and free-to-air. Teenagers (and 12 year olds) have been betrayed by the BBC.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Teachers' notes - part 2

Teachers' notes - part 2

In a recent lesson plan the BBC has decided to use Islam as a basis of 'education' and information on exclusion and bullying. By doing this the lesson plan sidesteps diversity issues within religious culture itself. And this year's Prix Jeunesse entry from Newsround did the same when it attempted to combat prejudice against Islam following 9/11. Their entry failed to win any prizes because the only legitimate way to combat bullying and prejudice against any group is to foster the values of inclusiveness, tolerance and diversity.

The lesson plan called Group blame after 11 September considers what it feels like to be a member of a group wrongly blamed for something you didn't do. But it does not look into the problems of religion itself which so often promotes "group blame" against "unbelievers". For example Islam has no place for lgbt people and Islam Expo in London, on the anniversary of 7/7, refused to allow any gay Muslim groups to participate this year.

Islam is not the only religion which sees gay people as an easy target. Ever since the destruction of Sodom, lgbt people have been blamed for many of the world's ills. Some Christian fundamentalists in America have even blamed the twin tower attack of 9/11 on homosexuality, and more recently homosexuality has been suggested as the cause of the tsunami in 2004.

So coming back to the theme of Teachers' Notes - teachers should ask kids to look carefully through the lesson index page to see if they can find anything specifically supporting lesbian, gay, bi, or trans people. Maybe they could save time by looking under more likely headings. What about trying to find information about homophobia or anti-gay discrimination.

Ask the class to consider why they have found nothing. Could the BBC be prejudiced? What can be done to make the BBC less prejudiced?

Always treat people as you would like to be treated yourself says Gavin Ramjaun, Newsround's latest presenter. Pupils should think carefully about what Gavin says and now consider what it would feel like to be a member of a group which is frowned upon, sometimes even hated. What if no one wanted to hear what you had to say, or worse, pretended that you didn't exist? Who would want to be treated like that?

Lesson Objectives

At the end of the lesson, students should feel empowered, on behalf of their fellow human beings, to tackle prejudice and discrimination. They should understand that discrimination will persist until people are prepared to stand up and be counted against unfair prejudice in all its forms.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Teachers' notes
Teachers' notes - part 1

John Reith said the purpose of the BBC should be to inform, educate and entertain. I doubt Reith wanted to inform people about his feelings for Charlie Bowser, but today's BBC bosses are still determined to keep lgbt people well and truly in the closet, or else used as a joke and source of amusement.

Newsround produces teachers' notes for lessons based on issues in the news. A quick look at a recent Citizenship lesson plan might make you think that the BBC is a fair-minded organisation producing plans to teach tolerance and the value of diversity.

Teachers and kids shouldn't be so easily fooled. The BBC is homophobic in its outlook. There isn't a single lesson plan which acknowledges lgbt kids or the problems of homophobia which they face at school.

The person responsible for the teachers' lesson plans is Paul Whelan. In the summer I emailed him to ask why there is no lgbt-relevant information on the site, and if there are any plans to correct the omission.

Mr Whelan explained the purpose of the lesson plans, and said that editorial values reflect subjects that have appeared on Newsround or its website. He claimed that same-sex relationships are not taught as part of Sex Education until Key stage 4 (age 14-16) at secondary school which, he said, is not their target audience. He said that Newsround’s target audience is now children aged 7-11, however viewers and readers may be as young as five or six. Consequently content that deals with any subjects of a sexual nature requires very careful consideration, due to the different ages and levels of understanding within this audience.

Finally Mr Whelan claimed that they receive a lot of audience feedback and they aim to shape what they do in response to comments. He said he had been visiting schools from around the UK for several years, talking to pupils and teachers. He had also "sifted through some of the many thousands of emails" they receive each year and found that his experience has been that there is "no tangible demand" for more coverage of LGBT issues, and that my comment was "the first such suggestion" he had come across.

I told him that experts 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.

I was surprised he had never heard homophobic language being used on his visits to primary schools and asked if he had ever asked about homophobia and homophobic bullying. I explained that both pupils and teachers are likely to be reluctant to discuss this subject unless he raised the issue first - and even then some might prefer not to talk about it.

Paul Whelan has not answered these questions, however a page which about sex education was removed (see below).

Ever spoken to Paul Whelan at school? Let's have your comments!


First part of the page which was deleted after my enquiry:

Updated 03 December 2002, 15.23

PSHE 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F

Amy Crowhurst from West Sussex is expecting a baby boy in spring 2003.

The father is a boy she met at a youth club. Amy is only 12 years old but decided to keep her baby after seeing his image during a hospital scan.

Learning aims
Why sex education is important
Some sources of advice and information on the web

Thursday, September 07, 2006

On 21 August 2006 I emailed Tim Levell to confirm that some of us have felt over the last few years Newsround has seemed to exclude lgbt news and people, and also to ask if possible he would make the future of the programme more inclusive - for example, by reporting news on initiatives to stamp out homophobic bullying in schools.

The BBC says it is "an open and transparent organisation which is trusted by the public it serves, seeks to engage its audiences in dialogue, to learn from them and to respond honestly to what they have to say."

Not having received a reply, I then gave Tim Levell the opportunity to answer the criticisms here in Newsround Bias blog, and also to write the 100th entry himself in any way he wished.

If, at the time you're reading this, the previous blog entry is still reserved space, it's because Newsround's editor has yet to take up, or to decline my offer to answer points in the blog.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Newsround Blog 100

I received an email from Tim Levell on Monday 5 February 2007

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Blog 99

Childline's report on telephone calls asking for help about sexual orientation, homophobia and homophobic bullying mentions about some kids being triply isolated with schools, friends and families all being unsupportive at best or overtly homophobic at worst. Some young people who were homophobically bullied said they were in a catch-22 situation: by reporting the bullying to their school or parents, they would effectively "out" themselves. They were often reluctant to do this because they were aware of commonly expressed homophobic attitudes.

The report says "Many homosexual children know - through years of hearing slurs - that their parents are homophobic. The fear of telling parents, and problems that resulted from telling them, was the second most frequently mentioned issue for young people calling ChildLine about their sexual orientation."

However Newsround and CBBC do nothing to help alleviate the isolation of lgbt young people; Newsround and its website include gratuitous references to heterosexuality - boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, engagements and marriages. For example on Friday's Newsround, Adam's report about Ashley Cole's transfer included this comment: "Cole, who recently married Girls Aloud star, Cheryl Tweedy, has netted himself a five year deal worth a whopping £90,000 per week." The web report is no better.

A news programme for kids made by the national broadcaster should be expected to be fair minded when covering news. Not only does Newsround not cover lgbt news and issues, we saw in our last blog that they also censor stories with lgbt content, even where it is the main part of the story they are supposed to be covering, to remove the lgbt content so the story will fit in with their agenda.

Newsround's former editor, Ian Prince, said that these issues are not particularly relevant to the target audience and are better left to secondary school level. However the Childline report made it clear that homophobic bullying is an issue at primary as well as secondary school level, as I have been telling the BBC all along. This is well documented by educationalists and psychologists, who say the problem should be tackled from Key Stage 1 onwards.

The BBC is well aware of these facts, yet I still get given the excuse that sexuality is not a matter for CBBC, since children are not grown-up enough. Funny how this always means lgbt sexualities are unsuitable, but on the other hand heterosexuality is invariably ok - programmes are fine as long as they are about boy/girl crushes, and not girl/girl or boy/boy crushes. In the past a few kids' programmes did touch on the issue, but now the BBC is clamping down on diversity using the "Creative Future" excuse.

Paul Smith, a CBBC policy adviser, says that CBBC policies are built on the premise of no discrimination against any persons because of their race, gender, age, sexual orientation etc., but he also claims the BBC have a secondary, but very important, 'contract' with parents to provide material that, while challenging the audience, also takes account of parents' expectations. He said CBBC output should be suitable for the entire target age range at all times [email from Paul Smith of 10 July 2006].

I offered to send Mr Smith full transcripts of two half-hour CBBC web chats so he could see for himself how Andrew Hayden-Smith was asked about relationships and romance etc in his interview yet Alex Parks was asked no such questions. Paul Smith admitted that he wasn't familiar with the interviews with Andrew or Alex Parks (see blog on 16 Feb 2006 for details), but when offered a chance to see the transcripts he declined and said he didn't accept the comparison between the two interviews. It seems he was not willing to look at the evidence of discrimination for himself, nor discuss its implications with the BBC's own diversity experts. He simply wasn't willing to accept that homosexuality had any place on CBBC, even when I tried to show him evidence that heterosexuality was covered all the time.

Paul Smith's view on CBBC was that knowing and understanding their audience is something the BBC take very seriously, and the success of the CBBC "brand" suggested they get it right most of the time. As far as sexuality is concerned, he said he believed that this is not really a meaningful or relevant subject for the range of CBBC's target audience, and its inclusion would raise some understandable concerns from their parents. He said that if a post to a CBBC messageboard were to mention homophobic bullying and there is a specific issue, then it would be passed on to one of the other BBC websites, e.g. teens and/ Radio 1 both of which have the supporting knowledge and material to deal with the issue.

The BBC's discriminatory attitude is against the spirit of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Every Child Matters - the basis for modern UK policies involving young people. It is incredible that this attitude pervades the BBC from the very top downwards and little is being done to combat it, in spite of all the best evidence that kids can feel isolated, depressed and even despairing or suicidal when they are bullied. The Childline report is an attempt to look honestly and frankly at the problems some kids have to face at school. It includes comments from kids such as ‘I’m really attracted to other girls, but I don’t want to be gay. It’s not right.’ -- ‘I look at some boys and get really excited, but I don’t like fancying them. It feels wrong.’ -- ‘I’m confused. I’ve always thought I was straight, but now I’ve started having fantasies about other boys. The things I’m thinking make me feel like I must be sick.’

Other kids whose comments are included in the Childline report are happy with their sexuality but face prejudice and harassment from their peers and/or parents: ‘I’m happy I’m gay, but nobody else is. Everyone calls me "batty boy" and kicks me when I go past.’ -- ‘My parents are very religious,’ said 14-year-old Dipesh. ‘They say that being gay is a sin - I’ll never be able to tell them the truth.’ -- ‘I think my parents are okay with gay people in general but I think they’ll freak if they find out I’m a lesbian. I’m an only child, and my mum’s always talked about how much she’s looking forward to being a grandmother.’

The Report says even when a parent was supportive there were sometimes caveats. For instance, 16-year-old Zoe said ‘I told my mum I’m a lesbian, and she was alright about it - but she told me not to tell anyone else. I know that’s partly to protect me, but it feels weird to have this big secret, especially when all my friends are talking about boys. What am I supposed to say?’

CBBC and Newsround are doing absolutely nothing to help kids, parents and schools combat homophobia, and to help make Britain an inclusive society. In fact by censoring news in the way it does, Newsround is compounding the problem. By pandering to the prejudices of some parents, Newsround will almost certainly help nobody and will simply reinforce stereotypes and bigotry, feeding the misery and despair that some kids feel at school.