There has been a spate of suicides in the United States recently. Many of the young people who died had been suffering months or years of homophobic bullying. So far President Obama has done little or nothing to help LGB & T equality, but a few days ago he did issue a sympathetic message on YouTube as part of a campaign telling bullied kids that life gets better.
Obama admits he doesn't "know what it's like to be picked on for being gay." The video below, on the other hand, is from someone who knows what it's like. On 12th October Joel Burns spoke at a Fort Worth City Council meeting -
The "It Gets Better" campaign is obviously well-intentioned, but is premised upon homophobic bullying being an inevitable fact of life for some kids. That's precisely NOT how it should be. Today's Guardian includes an article showing how effective school lessons on gay history can be in promoting tolerance and reducing bullying.
Television also has a crucial role to play in championing a cohesive society, where all people are treated as of equal standing.
What, then, needs to be done?
During the last decade children's TV has steadily become less inclusive, and homophobic bullying and attacks have increased. So it's over to those responsible, the bosses at BBC Children's, to reverse that trend.
Anti-Bullying Week isn't far off. Two or three programmes combatting homophobic bullying would be a long-overdue start, but a complete change of ethos is needed as well. Instead of news programmes and children's dramas shying away from lesbigay portrayal and issues, programme makers need to go out of their way to treat all people fairly.