Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Full marks go to CBBC Newsround for their reporting of Tom Daley coming out on Monday. The story appeared on their website early that afternoon and it was reported as third story on both the 4.20pm and the 6.50pm bulletins.

Newsround's coverage was just right, not making a huge deal of Tom's announcement, but at the same time not minimising the significance and problems faced by other LGBT people. The short clip from Tom's YouTube video cut to the chase by avoiding unnecessary explanations and extraneous details.

One thing clear, even from that short clip, is that 19-year-old Tom was quite embarrassed to reveal he was in a relationship with another man. But should we be surprised? After all we know that Tom was bullied at school and that the bullying got so bad that he was eventually forced to change schools.

Tom Daley reveals he's dating a guy

Like thousands of other schoolchildren in Britain, Tom would have heard 'gay' being used in pejorative contexts on an almost daily basis. Some of that negativity is bound to rub off and scar. Such insidious language urgently needs to be tackled in Britain's primary and secondary schools. And luckily there are now some teachers, celebrities and organisations leading the way.

Eliminating homophobic prejudice, though, isn't only about raising awareness of offensive and hurtful language. It's also about inclusion for all - making everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, feel wanted and valuable members of society. In recent times that's something children's TV has not done well. There was a session devoted to this topic at this year's Children's Media Conference, though whether any media companies have followed up with plans for inclusive programmes is a completely different matter. CBBC is one of the Conference sponsors, so I have asked CBBC's media people about any plans they may have for including relevant teen protagonists/role models in their drama. Waiting to hear back.

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