Thursday, May 24, 2007

Majority in Britain support gay equality

Surprising as it may be to some people, the majority of Britain's population support gay equality. That was the finding of a recently published YouGov survey carried out for Stonewall. YouGov has the reputation of being one of the most accurate polling organisations.

Some BBC managers have given me the excuse of needing to be sensitive to parents' concerns in dealing with these issues, but according to the survey findings nine out of ten people support equality.

In the early part of 2007 I was told that CBBC would be reviewing its current policy. Newsround's editor kept me abreast of developments for a while, but I haven't yet been able to ascertain whether there has been a revised approach and, if so, what it will mean for young lgbt people.

On the positive side, I have noticed the following message (Message 35 below) on the CBBC Your Life messageboard. And not only was it allowed through, but it was also answered by Aaron, CBBC's resident agony uncle. But reading between the lines, it was clear that coolkid969 had experienced problems asking his question on the messageboard, as this sequence of posts shows:-

Message 35 - posted by coolkid969 (U8285900)
dear Aaron
i have a massive problem!! well i'm a boy and i think i am a bit weird if you know wat i mean! people call me a girl and i think i like other boys! please help me!!
thank you!

Message 61 - posted by gotta be green glorious GREEN! (U7384463)
Do you mean you FANCY other Boys?

Message 98 - posted by coolkid969 (U8285900)
yes put it that way cause i cant say the word help me please!

I believe that coolkid969's Message 98 implies that the word 'gay' was not allowed by moderators.

However the reply advice thread, which also allows kids to reply, included this message from pogostickid :-

Message 8 - posted by pogostickid (U2533439)
Yeah, there's nothing wrong with being gay. My uncle is gay and he's the coolest -- so is his boyfriend who I also call unlcle, ever since I was little, so I dont see what the big fuss is about. It's not your problem -- it's other people's problem who don't know nee beter.

And now you can see that 'gay' was passed that time by the moderators.

Are we witnessing the end of CBBC discrimination on the boards, or was this simply a temporary 'blip' in favour of tolerance?

In the past almost all messages about same sex attraction failed to get through the moderation process. How can I be certain of this? The answer is that I cannot be certain, but all else being equal, based on official estimates of the lgb population, for every one hundred posts about crushes the probability that there will be none about same sex attraction is very low (about 1 in 400). And, in fact, there is a slightly greater probability of fourteen or more such messages in every 100 than none at all.

Obviously messages using 'gay' in a deliberately derogatory context shouldn't be allowed through. However for the sake of diversity and inclusiveness young people asking for advice should not be barred from using words like lesbian, gay, bi or trans. In addition there should be some relevant expert advice on CBBC's No Problem web pages.

Living together - British attitudes to lesbian and gay people

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