Saturday, July 07, 2007

End gay jibes call

Kids who bully gay classmates will be treated like racists, in a crackdown launched yesterday.

New children's minister Kevin Brennan urged schools to protect the 156,000 gay pupils who suffer homophobic jibes.

He blasted Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles for using the word "gay" to mean "uncool" on air. Mr Brennan said: "This is too often seen as harmless banter instead of the offensive insult that it is."

New guidelines will be sent to schools in the autumn. It also emerged £14 million will be spent on teaching kids how to manage their feelings and resolve fights peacefully.

The above story was from page 2 of Friday's The Sun newspaper. Though neither Chris Moyles nor the BBC were actually mentioned by the children's minister, there was little doubt his remarks were a thinly-veiled reference to Moyles's language on Radio 1 last year (see blog 7 June 2006). The story was also covered in other media including The Mail and The Telegraph, but interestingly the BBC itself has so-far failed to report it anywhere. The news report was obviously relevant to Newsround's viewers, but once again the opportunity was missed.

Homophobic language has also been in the news this week when, in the Big Brother house Laura Williams called Liam a "poof." Channel 4 at first claimed the word was used in a non-derogatory context. Then two days later, Laura again compared Liam to a "big poof" apparently knowing it wasn't an appropriate word, but this time she was reprimanded. Laura was told that inappororiate or offensive language was not acceptable in the House and "that would include homophobic language such as poof."

It seems to be slowly dawning on Channel 4 that homophobic language is no more acceptable than racist language. And if the channel wishes to avoid accusations of double-standards it will have to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to both racism and homophobia.

Laura was voted out the Big Brother house last night, but later in the evening Jonathan Ross was on BBC1 with his house band Four Poofs And A Piano. For an organisation which claims "institutional support" for gay people (see blog 18 June 2007), it is sad to see that in reality this "support" amounts to little more than employing gay people as self-deprecating stereotypes or as the target of jokes by Jonathan Ross. Four Poofs And A Piano would not be employed by the BBC but for their offensive band name.

No comments: