The BBC’s reporting on gender ideology is reckless. This can’t be allowed to continue

Jan 20, 2021 by

by Caroline ffiske, Conservatives for Women:

How the BBC presents and reports on gender ideology is irresponsible. In the words of Tory Peer, Baroness Nicholson: ‘At best, this represents a systemic failure of the BBC’s impartiality, editorial standards and journalistic competence. At worst, it is redolent of harmful activism’. We agree with her. Oliver Dowden, the responsible Minister of State must act to curtail further harm.

In late December, the BBC ran a news item about trans-identifying children that was full of inaccuracies and irresponsible reporting. This followed the High Court ruling, initiated by Keira Bell, that will restrict children under 16 from accessing “puberty-blocking” drugs.  The most serious aspect of the story was how it talked about suicide. In response, a group of doctors wrote to the BBC outlining their concerns. They wrote ‘on four occasions in the article it surmises that since the Judicial Review, transgender teens are potentially now at increased risk of suicide. This is not only conjecture, but it could also inflate the risk of suicide in a group of very vulnerable young people’. 

James Kirkup wrote about the news item for the Spectator. He described it as ‘a horrible failure of journalism’. Kirkup pointed the BBC to advice from the Samaritans about how the media should talk about suicide: ‘Steer clear of presenting suicidal behaviour as an understandable response to a crisis or adversity. This can contribute to unhelpful and risky normalising of suicide as an appropriate response to distress.’ And: ‘Speculation about the ‘trigger’ or cause of a suicide can oversimplify the issue and should be avoided. Suicide is extremely complex and most of the time there is no single event or factor that leads someone to take their own life.’

Following many complaints, the BBC amended its article and inserted an explanatory message. However, as Kirkup wrote ‘What that message does not mention is that the changes [made] include removing the central assertion of the original piece. The original text said ‘Doctors and parents have told the BBC the ruling could cause distressed trans teens to self-harm or even take their own lives.’Now it says this: ‘Doctors and parents have told the BBC the ruling could put already vulnerable trans teens at risk.’ In other words, the BBC reported yesterday that a court ruling could cause young people to commit suicide. Today it no longer says that. Such a correction is welcome, of course, but I can’t help thinking that such a fundamental change in the premise of the article warrants at least a clear public acknowledgment, if not outright deletion’

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