Tuesday, July 29, 2008

From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel (continued from 9 July 2008)

I'm still trying to clarify some points about the BBC impartiality report, but in the meantime I've been checking through two of CBBC's message boards and found out some quite interesting results.

The Your Life message board allowed a small number of LGBT-related messages through last year (blog 23 June 2008) and in September one board user started a petition, but the thread was closed by administrators in November, since when hardly any new LGBT-related messages have been allowed through moderation.

The situation on CBBC's Bullying message board is even worse. According to the BBC, "comments from children are not filtered out for the reason that they have used words such as 'lesbian' or 'gay'."

So I checked back over two years on the Bullying message board. For the period between July 2006 and now there are no messages at all which specifically mention 'gay' or 'lesbian' apart from this one where 'gay' occurs in its pejorative sense. Other causes of bullying are commonly found on the board. For example, in the same period, 'ginger' was found on 164 threads and 'fat' was found on 181 threads. Those issues have been covered on Newsround's TV programme (eg my blogs on 22 August 2007 & 22 May 2008)

Bullying related to sexual orientation is recognised as unfortunately being common in schools today, so the chance of no-one trying to use the word 'gay' or 'lesbian' for over two years on the CBBC Bullying message board is unlikely. This leads to the conclusion that the BBC has deliberately filtered out messages about homophobic bullying - definitely NOT the action of an institution which supports equality for gay people, or aspires to such support. That's why the BBC needs to explain precisely what is meant on page 72 of its report entitled From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel - Safeguarding impartiality in the 21st century.

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