Sunday, November 22, 2015

The so-called "Family Channel" is a Canadian broadcaster responsible for several children's programmes including The Next Step - a mainstay of current CBBC schedules.

Family has been celebrating its 13th Annual Bullying Awareness Week, which coincided with Anti-Bullying week in Britain. Their website (not normally viewable outside Canada) tells people to "tune in all week starting November 16 for bullying-themed episodes and clips of Family stars talking about their experiences with bullying." And amongst the resources on the Family Channel website is a fact sheet to help parents and teachers reduce bullying against LGBTQ kids. The fact sheet is part of what the channel calls its StandUP! campaign.

The interesting thing about this Family Channel anti-bullying campaign resource is that it stresses the importance of 'inclusion' as a main factor in tackling homophobic bullying.

However, as Newsround Blog discovered some time ago, it appears that no shows made by the Family Channel actually portray gay or LGBT characters - Hypocrisy much? I've asked them about LGBT inclusion on Twitter several times, but have yet to receive a reply.

The Next Step is laced with racism and homophobia. And recent episodes (s3 eps25 & 26) have, once again, brought its xenophobic credentials to the fore. In an early episode we saw the characters making fun of British accents, but now we get to see more of the real contempt they have for British people ....

British exchange student Ella had become the best friend of Riley from The Next Step dance studio. Nevertheless Ella is shown in an extremely bad light when she totally betrays her friend in an attempt to win the Internationals trophy for Britain. Riley responds to the betrayal by telling Ella: "Not only is my team going to win, but we're going to do it without stooping to your level."

Notice, above, that Riley's team do not have a national flag on their outfits - they only have the TNS logo. Whereas British dancer Ella sports a large Union Jack on her outfit.

As if the racism, homophobia, xenophobia and other bigotry is not enough reason for CBBC to cancel this appalling children's show, at the end of a dance routine in series 3 episode 4 "Let the Games Begin" we see Eldon make an obscene gesture towards opponents in the 'Elite' dance team.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

For many years topics relating to homophobia, homophobic bullying and sexual orientation were virtually off CBBC's agenda.

There wasn't even an acknowledgement of Alan Turing's centenary in 2012.

However eventually in 2014 Joe Godwin, Director of BBC Children's decided these subjects could be covered. But this year, with a new person in charge, it seems we might almost back to square one as regards LGBT inclusion.

Below is the substantive part of an email sent to Alice Webb on 9th November 2015. -

FAO: Alice Webb - Director, BBC Children's

Dear Alice,

Further to my enquiry on 29th October, as I've not heard back I assume you are unable to divulge the detailed statistics. Please may I therefore merely ask instead about inclusion in forthcoming CBBC shows?

In September you spoke about BBC Children’s vision for the future. You mentioned giving children a beautiful array of distinctive content - and cited CBBC's I Am Leo, which was the first children's documentary dealing with trans issues.

However - and correct me if I'm mistaken - no new BBC children's TV content which included LGBT characters or themes has been broadcast in 2015. Please could you therefore let me know if there are any new relevant programmes I should look out for in the next few months? Many thanks.

Kind regards,

Friday, November 13, 2015

Anti-Bullying Week starts on Monday.

One way the BBC can help reduce bullying is to make programmes which represent all viewers, and, to some extent children's TV has succeeded in that aim. Last year, for example, CBBC tackled homophobia and homophobic bullying on Newsround for the first time. And CBBC's 'Our School' documentary series, included a deputy headteacher from London, Shaun Dellenty, giving a school assembly about the harm caused by homophobic bullying.

However, the Corporation still seems to have an issue with allowing young people to self-identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, though the same is not true of those who identify as transgender. The 'My Life' documentary I Am Leo, about trans boy Leo Waddell is due to be repeated this Sunday.

Regrettably, no new children's drama portraying LGB young people was broadcast on CBBC in 2015. Rarely a day goes by without children's dramas portraying 'straight' romantic relationships.

A question about the lack of representation of children with disabilities was asked at this year's Children's Media Conference. The questioner, Camilla Arnold, explained that while growing up she saw little, if any, representation of deaf people on television, unless they were elderly - and only a handful of characters had any other form of disability. Camilla asked if more should be done to ensure children's programmes reflect real life.

Anna Home, who worked on BBC children's TV many years ago, agreed, and said there was a need to avoid ghettoisation but that drama is a very good way of bringing in new characters.

Alice Webb, said she was very proud of what BBC Children's is doing in terms of diversity - 26% of representation on CBBC and CBeebies. Alice couldn't remember the individual diversity figures, but said she'd be happy to get them out. However, the BBC has not since responded favourably to requests for the information.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

The theme of this year's Anti-Bullying Week is Make A Noise About Bullying

CBBC Newsround reported, on 23rd October, that a new app is being launched to make it easier for kids to report bullying and receive advice from their teachers. The tootoot app, which will reportedly be available in app stores on 18th November 2015, allows pupils to remain anonymous should they wish to do so.

Anti-Bullying Week starts on 16th November 2015.