CBBC’s first same-sex kiss scene appeared on an episode of Byker Grove in 1994, and yet people are still complaining about LGBTQ+ storylines in 2020.
Today, it is still an entertainment space where young people can tune in, watch, learn and enjoy shows that reflect the society they are growing up in.
That’s why, for most people, the recent airing of a same-sex kiss on its show The Next Step was very much welcomed. Although it shouldn’t be a significant moment in children’s TV (it is 2020, after all), LGBTQ+ representation is still rarely provided on shows for young people – which is why this is a big step forwards.
Although there has been plenty of support for the scene, not everyone seems to agree, as the BBC has received over 100 complaints about it.
To quickly recap what actually happens in the scene: Jude and Cleo are two friends in teen drama, The Next Step, which centres on a competitive dance studio. The pair’s friendship deepens and, after performing a duet together, they embrace each another and kiss.
Yes, this is what has sparked an outcry from some viewers.
CBBC has now responded to the backlash with the following statement:
“The decision to include this moment, as part of a longer storyline throughout series seven which has been tracking the development of a romantic relationship between two of the characters, Jude and Cleo, was taken very carefully and with much consideration, and came about after CBBC and Boat Rocker (the production company who make the show) acknowledged that the series could and should do more to reflect the lives of LGBTQ+ young people.
“This is an important part of our mission to make sure that every child feels like they belong, that they are safe, and that they can be who they want to be.
“We believe that the storyline, and the kiss, was handled with sensitivity and without sensationalism, following as it did the portrayal of Jude and Cleo’s developing relationship and I’m afraid we do not agree that it was inappropriate for the audience age.
“CBBC regularly portrays heterosexual young people dating, falling in love, and kissing, and it is an important way of showing children what respectful, kind and loving relationships look like.”
“At Children’s BBC, we are proud to reflect all areas of children’s lives across our factual and fictional output.
“Same-sex relationships have already featured in other CBBC shows such as Jamie Johnson, 4 O’Clock Club, Dixie and Marrying Mum and Dad, and the first same-sex kiss on CBBC was in fact in Byker Grove, many years ago. This moment in The Next Step is merely one story among a myriad of voices and experiences across our output.”
Although the BBC shouldn’t have to explain its decision to represent LGBTQ+ stories in 2020, this is a brilliant response to anyone offended by a same-sex kiss on kids TV.