BBC’s ‘straight ally’ badges to make gay staff com­fort­able

Bosses want to tackle ‘het­eronor­ma­tive’ cul­ture

Daily Mail - - EUGENIE’S MAGICAL DAY - By Susie Coen TV and Ra­dio Re­porter

THE BBC is en­cour­ag­ing staff to be­come ‘straight al­lies’ of col­leagues who are gay, les­bian or have other gen­der iden­ti­ties.

The move is an at­tempt to tackle what it calls a ‘het­eronor­ma­tive cul­ture’, in which be­ing straight is con­sid­ered the norm.

To shift the bal­ance, staff who are het­ero­sex­ual but ‘ac­tively pro­mote’ LGBT is­sues will wear pin badges or use email sig­na­tures to sig­nify that they are ‘al­lies’ of les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der col­leagues.

as it strives to be­come more in­clu­sive, the broad­caster will also adopt the acro­nym LgbTQ+ to re­flect how ‘sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity blur be­yond the L, g, b or T’.

LgbTQ+ stands for ‘les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der and ques­tion­ing’, with the plus sign in­clud­ing other sex­u­al­i­ties, such as gen­der fluid, while ‘ques­tion­ing’ rep­re­sents those who are ex­plor­ing their sex­u­al­ity.

So-called ‘non-bi­nary pro­nouns’ – for ex­am­ple, re­fer­ring to some­one as ‘they’ in­stead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ – will also be used by staff. non-bi­nary peo­ple who do not con­form to male or fe­male sex­less ual­ity of­ten pre­fer to be called ‘they’.

The BBC said it was tak­ing ac­tion over fears that its ‘het­eronor­ma­tive cul­ture’ left LGBT work­ers feel­ing un­sup­ported – one of a num­ber of con­cerns raised by LGBT staff, who make up 11 per cent of the work­force.

in a re­port, the BBC said: ‘Straight al­lies have been key to ad­vanc­ing fair treat­ment of their les­bian, gay and bi­sex­ual staff in other com­pa­nies.

‘Their in­volve­ment, be­cause they’re not LGBT them­selves, has had a trans­for­ma­tive ef­fect on the cul­ture of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.’ The BBC’s train­ing for em­ploy­ees on di­ver­sity, in­clu­sion and un­con­scious bias will also in­clude an LGBT sec­tion, and it will also re­view ‘sys­tems and prac­tices to en­sure they are in­clu­sive of non-bi­nary gen­ders’.

its on-air por­trayal of LGBT peo­ple will also be re­viewed reg­u­larly to en­sure that the ‘full range of fluid sex­ual ori­en­ta­tions and gen­der iden­ti­ties are rep­re­sented’.

The pro­file of LGBT staff will be raised to pro­vide role mod­els, and a sys­tem of LGBT men­tors will guide se­nior les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der staff. Train­ing will be pro­vided and sys­tems put in place to sup­port trans­gen­der staff, par­tic­u­larly when tran­si­tion­ing.

BBC bosses say they have acted to en­sure they re­tain and at­tract the best LGBT tal­ent and to ap­peal to a younger au­di­ence as a broad­caster.

James Pur­nell, the broad­caster’s di­rec­tor of ra­dio and ed­u­ca­tion, said: ‘One of our big chal­lenges is around young au­di­ences.

‘in a re­cent Yougov sur­vey only 51 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said they iden­ti­fied as com­pletely het­ero­sex­ual.

‘an or­gan­i­sa­tion that ap­pears to have a het­eronor­ma­tive cul­ture is not one that is go­ing to cut ice with them ei­ther as a con­sumer or an em­ployee.’

a sur­vey of 300 LGBT staff at the BBC also re­vealed con­cerns that gay men were the most vis­i­ble mem­bers of the LGBT com­mu­nity there, cre­at­ing a need for more vis­i­ble LGBT lead­ers.

Karen Milling­ton and Matt Weaver, chair­men of Pride at the BBC, said: ‘We hope this makes ev­ery­one feel in­cluded, whether gen­derqueer, bi­sex­ual, gay, les­bian, trans­gen­der, non­bi­nary, pan­sex­ual, in­ter­sex, asex­ual, queer, ques­tion­ing or an ally.’

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