A lot of people have been writing complaint letters to the BBC (thankyou!) so I thought it might be useful to provide sample letters plus where to send it to so more people can send a letter if they wish without too much effort.
Please feel free to copy/edit the letters and complaints can be sent here.
To whom it may concern,
I was thoroughly appalled by the amount of airtime given to Lynette Burrows and the fact that she was allowed, on national television, to liken teaching Sex and Relationships educators (which basically includes anyone who teaches Science or PSHE) to paedophilia. (Her exact quotes were: this sort of education that is obsessed with destroying childhood innocence in a way that is reminiscent of paedophilia” and “To me, anyone who wants to talk “dirty” to little children is a danger to them” and “How are they [children] to know the difference between a stranger in the classroom showing dirty pictures and a dirty old man in the park showing the same pictures who is in fact a predator”)
The fact that the presenter did not challenge this view, or ask her on what she was basing her accusation was inexcusable. The fact that an SRE teacher was then given practically no time to discuss the matter, instead giving extra airtime to an unqualified person from the ‘Campaign for Real Education’ to suggest that teaching homosexuality in a non-judgemental way was immoral merely compounded the error.
This was a horribly misinformed piece of programming that did not reflect the beliefs or needs of the vast majority of parents or students. I expect better from the BBC, of all organisations. The fact that non professionals were given more airtime than professionals to discuss a matter is a horrible case of imbalance in your coverage of a very delicate issue.
Opinion is not the same as expertise, and this programme gave way too much prominence to those who shouted the loudest. This program was in no way interested in reporting the actual facts, or informing public debate, instead it gave a strong platform to someone to express an abhorrent viewpoint and then didn’t even challenge her on it, or pick apart the issues raised which is extremely negligent of the BBC.
On SML this morning, Lynette Burrows was allowed, unchallenged, to accuse sex and relationship educators of paedophilia. The programme was biased toward the conservative end of the spectrum, and the professionals were unable to have their say.
The accusation of paedophilia is a very serious allegation, suggesting that members of the teaching profession are engaging in criminal activity such as child abuse.
I, and many other teachers (I teach biology, which necessarily contains some aspects of SRE), have found this profoundly insulting and offensive – such an allegation, if levelled at a named teacher, would be career-ending.
On this matter alone, the BBC must issue a full apology for failing to challenge Ms Burrows.
The BBC also prides itself on being fair and balanced in its reporting. You gave very little airtime to Alice Hoyle, the sole SRE teacher asked for an opinion, and instead filled the show with ultra-conservative opinions.
You have a public service remit, and you cannot remain impartial as a broadcaster if you allow non-professionals equal or more airtime than professionals. Ms Hoyle had a wealth of data and scientific studies, which she was not allowed to cite.
Honestly, nothing more than a full apology for such an atrocious, biased, hate-filled and slanderous commentary will suffice.
A better option would be the agreement to make an educated and unbiased documentary about what SRE actually entails, in addition to this apology.
Finally I haven’t actually written a formal complaint yet. Partly because am a bit shellshocked by the whole experience and waiting to see what happens when the dust settles but I have had some thoughts on my own complaint which can be found here.