Friday, October 21, 2011

By the time kids start primary school many have picked up signals that 'gay' is a bad thing to be, and use the word as a term of abuse. Lack of gay characters on kids TV only serves to condone prejudice, and thus make the homophobic bullying worse.

Earlier this year the BBC's Director of Children's visited a group called Families Together London which represents families with LGBT children. The purpose of his visit was to talk about making children's TV inclusive, in order that all youngsters grow up being accepted and valued.

So what, if anything, is the BBC doing to challenge homophobia?

On 20th December 2010 the Director of Children's wrote in an email to me: "The pace of change is undoubtedly slower than you would like, but I would ask again that you accept my genuine and heartfelt intention is to improve things." And the message of 'It Gets Better' is that kids being bullied at school should be aware that things will be better when they get older.

FTL say they were told that nothing is going to happen 'tomorrow' - but as I mentioned in June for some kids ‘tomorrow’ is already too late.

Five months ago Jamey Rodemeyer made his own YouTube video with that very message - that it gets better. Tragically Jamey killed himself last month. And then just last week another boy, Jamie Hubley, killed himself. He was homophobically bullied at school and, with reference to the 'It Gets Better' campaign, had blogged "I don’t want to wait three more years, this hurts too much. How do you even know it will get better? It’s not."

This year Anti-Bullying Week begins on 14th November 2011, and hopefully CBBC's Newsround will not shy away from addressing the specific problem of homophobic bullying. In previous years they have failed.

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