Via Feministing, a children's BBC show hired a presenter who's missing part of her right arm. Some parents didn't like the hire that much:
Disparaging comments by adults about a children's presenter have led to an angry backlash in support of Cerrie Burnell, the 29-year-old CBeebies host who was born missing the lower section of her right arm. One man said that he would stop his daughter from watching the BBC children's channel because Burnell would give his child nightmares.
Parents even called the broadcaster to complain... some of the vitriolic comments on the "Grown Up" section of the channel's website were so nasty that they had to be removed.
"Is it just me, or does anyone else think the new woman presenter on CBeebies may scare the kids because of her disability?" wrote one adult on the CBeebies website. Other adults claimed that their children were asking difficult questions as a result.
The horror. Parents having to talk to their children. But how familiar is this to LGBT parents?
It's obvious that kids aren't being scared here - it's just that some grown-ups need to get over themselves and realize that they can't prevent their children from knowing about the people that make them uncomfortable.
Disabled people are underrepresented on TV. And lots of people assume, I suppose, that their kids can go through life without ever seeing someone who's disabled. But the message is loud and clear: people who are disabled as so awful that children can't see them.
What I wonder about is the kids who have parents, relatives, or teachers who are disabled. Are they being "scared" every day of their lives? And what about the kids who are disabled? What message is being sent to them when no one on TV is disabled as well?
Meanwhile, Burnell herself seems like an awesome role model for kids:
Burnell, who described her first television presenting role as a "dream job", has also appeared in EastEnders and Holby City and has been feted for performances in the theatre while also worked as a teaching assistant at a special needs school in London. She also has a four-year-old child. "I think the negative comments from those few parents are indicative of a wider problem of disabled representation in the media as a whole, which is why it's so important for there to be more disabled role models in every area of the media," she said in response yesterday.
"The support that I've received ... has been truly heartening. It's brilliant that parents are able to use me as a way of talking about disability with their children and for children who are similarly disabled to see what really is possible in life and for their worlds to be represented in such a positive, high profile manner."
One thing I'll never understand, though, is the need to "protect" children from knowing that other groups of people even exist.