Saturday, April 19, 2008

Eliot in Love

How many children in Britain know the story of Cinderella? Quite a lot I should think. And few parents would object to it being read to their children at school. But change the events slightly to a tale about a prince falling in love with another prince and ... well that's another story! Bristol City Council have withdrawn books called 'King and King' and 'And Tango Makes Three' from two primary schools after complaints, mainly from Muslim parents.

Books like these are intended to help children understand that people are different. Experts believe that understanding differences at an early age is one of the most effective ways of tackling prejudice. So if young children realise that boys don't necessarily fancy girls (and vice versa) that is a sensible way to deal with the problem of homophobia and resultant homophobic bullying. As a bonus these books could also help some children who might otherwise be somewhat unhappy about their own feelings.

Regrettably the BBC seems to have a similar attitude as the parents who complained.

Over the last year or two CBBC has insisted that all its output should be suitable for six to twelve year olds. One of its newish acquisitions is a cartoon called Eliot Kid. It features an imaginative intelligent six year old boy called Eliot. Like many new cartoons Eliot Kid incorporates some modern ideas about diversity - a good selling point these days. So one of Eliot's two closest friends, Kaytoo, is black. His other best friend, Mimi, is a largish girl who wears glasses.

What about sexuality, though? Well, of course, CBBC says it doesn't deal with sexuality of any kind. But right from the start, in the episode called Wedding Impossible, there's a hint that six year old Eliot is attracted to the opposite sex. And we're not left in much doubt when, in an episode called Eliot in Love, we see Eliot totally besotted with classmate Loretta. Incidentally this was the episode referred to in my blog on 12 April 2008

When CBBC say they don't do sexuality, what they really mean is we don't do anything other than heterosexual feelings. It's true that Eliot never says anything such as "I'm straight", but that's only because he doesn't need to say it.

In the words of Mark Thompson "I thought this was clear before, but absolutely make it clear now" - the BBC is deceiving the public when it claims not to do sexuality of any kind for children.

If you're still not convinced, take a quick look at current posts to the Your Life message board and then read my blog on 28 March 2008.

Latest 'love' advice from Aaron, CBBC's Agony Uncle

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