Daily Mail strikes again

// 4 January 2006

The Daily Mail is at it again with an article on LGBT history month \x96 which includes recommendations for schools to teach pupils about gay and lesbian figures in history. The actual proposals are very sensible \x96 get kids to front up to homophobic bullying in the classroom by initiating discussions about the terms that are used, debates on non-binary gender, and highlighting famous and/or historical figures who were gay. Such as Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams and Leonardo Di Vinci. (My only slight complaint is that the list, at least as selected by the Daily Mail, doesn\x92t include much in the way of women). But the paper runs with the headline "Forget the Tudors\x85 and teach transvestism".

The Mail has not only missed the point, but walked five miles in the wrong direction. Teach the Tudors \x96 or at least the Tudor period (just learning about the kings and queens is a very sparse approach). But teach kids about all aspects of that society \x96 including Shakespeare and including the fact that he wrote a massive collection of sonnets mostly about another man.

A typical quote from the main story, illustrating the general homophobic tone of the piece and the attendant implication that a) it is wrong to say positive things about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and b) there is in fact no problem with the current situation: "It aims to \x91celebrate\x92 gays and their lifestyles and end an alleged \x91silence\x92 about homosexual issues in schools."

And what examples does the paper use to illustrate its point? Of course, the most extreme examples it can find and examples that have nothing at all to do with education. For instance, "Author Lynette Burrows accused organisers of \x91peddling poison\x92 and distorting history. Mrs Burrows, from Cambridge, was warned by a Scotland Yard officer last month of being involved in a “homophobic incident” after criticising gay adoption on a BBC programme."

First of all, who on earth is this woman and what possible insight can she give? Would the Mail seek out someone who was warned by the police they might have broken race hate laws on TV, to give their view on a campaign to educate kids on ethnic diversity in Britain? Well, maybe, but it doesn\x92t make it any less ludicrous.

The Daily Mail is not engaging in writing independent news stories here \x96 it is "campaigning", sneakily attempting to undermine something for no other reason than it is a bastion of prejudice itself. Of course it has no interest in ending homophobic bullying in the playground. Of course it has no interest in a history curriculum which reflects the truth. My advice to the world: stop buying it.

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