Friday, August 10, 2007

Discrimination on CBBC (continued)

Article 1 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as "every human being below the age of eighteen years," unless under applicable law Majority is attained earlier.

Newsround might be improving. Last Tuesday Lil Chris, who's nearly 17, talked about his life and ended by saying "Now you've heard my story, Newsround wants to hear yours. So get onto the website. This is Lil Chris reporting for Newsround."

But ageism, in this case rejection of older teens, is only part of the problem - Newsround still doesn't seem to want to report any lgbt stories.

John Reith, the first BBC Director-General although secretly bisexual himself, had no time for staff who failed to live up to his puritanical standards of morality. The hypocrisy of Reith still lives on in the Corporation. Children's TV personalities today can be gay, but only if they keep silent about it.

A comment left on this blog claimed that Biddy Baxter sacked Michael Sundin for being gay, and not for the reasons she gave Mark Lawson. Whatever the truth, her description in the late 1980's of Michael as "an effeminate whinger" could be suggestive of her inner puritanical motivation for not renewing his contract.

Quite a lot of gay people work for the BBC. At least that's the opinion of Andrew Marr (blog on 24 October 2006) and a well known Member of Parliament (blog on 16 September 2006.) True or not, there is still evidence of lingering prejudice at the Corporation since Biddy Baxter left her job as Editor of Blue Peter. As late as 2003 the BBC's Director of Television, Jana Bennett, expressed consternation that her daughter had even heard the word "lesbian."

In the 1990's some brave attempts were made to change things (see blog 2 June 2007), but all that has fizzled out, and the situation now is probably as dire as ever (except words like 'effeminate' or 'butch' probably wouldn't be used about employees nowadays.)

CBBC's reluctance to embrace inclusiveness and diversity is causing confusion, resulting in mixed signals to kids - that much became clear from the Children's TV on Trial season on BBC4 (see blogs dated 28 & 30 May 2007). The transcript there shows at first the kids were surprised to see gay issues covered on children's tv at all. But then Emily realises this is simply prejudice. All but one of them eventually accept that there's nothing wrong with being gay. Isn't it about time the BBC accepts that also?

Finally, Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child makes clear that children's rights must be protected against all forms of discrimination.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have not doubt Michael Sundin was sacked because he was gay. Biddy Baxter hated/hates gay men. In her small minded world she felt she was 'protecting' the viewers of Blue Peter ('her children') from an 'effeminate whinger' (read: her stereotype of a gay man). Michael was a hard worker - you only have to checkout the video of Janet Ellis interviewing him working out for his part in Tic Tok (return to OZ) on the BBC Blue Peter web page to see that. Not a whinger, just a hard working gay man born a few years too early - no HAART (anti-HIV drugs) to save him in 1989. Heartbreaking.