‘The BBC’s new policy on “equality and diversity” reads as though it is straight out of the W1A comedy series’
new wave of identity politics is obsessing the Beeb (Richard Cooke CC BY-SA 2.0)
The BBC’s new policy on “equality and diversity”, reading as though it is straight out of the W1A comedy series, aims to combat “heteronormative culture”. According to their chief radio and education honcho, the former Labour cabinet minister James Purnell, just over half (51 per cent) of 18- to 21-year-olds identify as heterosexual. There is no doubt that the BBC needs to engage younger viewers, and prise them away from their iPhones and laptops, but is the problem it seeks to address really about more “heteronormativity”, bearing in mind most of us don’t know what that even means?
In order to encourage more “woke” viewers, the Beeb commissioned an internal survey of 300 LGBT staff, which found that there are areas “requiring improvement, including a heteronormative culture, a need for inclusive non-binary language, insufficient support for trans staff, and a need to adopt LGBTQ or LGBTQ+.”
I wonder how many lesbians, as opposed to gay men or transgender individuals, took part in the survey. As is fashionable these days, the focus seems to be disproportionately on men and the transgender community. The identity list keeps on growing: it currently stands at LGBTQQIPA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Polyamorous, and Asexual).
However, much of this new wave of identity politics obsessing the Beeb and others appears to be largely about members of the “snowflake generation” wanting to be seen as that little bit special. Indeed, the few people who are not included in the ever-growing list, and who cannot even claim to have once worn an adult nappy at a fancy-dress party, can wear badges identifying as “straight allies”. Aside from the fact that some people do not wish to display their sexual preferences on a lapel, as an out and proud lesbian, I am dead against this idea, not least because it takes far more than a declaration of support to identify someone who will stand up for a gay colleague in the face of bigotry and abuse.
The BBC has, rightly in my view, faced allegations these past few years of sexism. After the Jimmy Savile scandal and the unequal pay revelations, it is clear that it needs to make amends to half of the population before worrying about using “non-binary pronouns”.
The quest to engage younger viewers is no doubt necessary to secure the future of the network, but many of us will opt to switch channels if the BBC does not get its priorities straight.