The BBC has defended the airing of a same-sex kiss on children's channel CBBC, following more than 100 complaints.
CBBC showed the episode of The Next Step (a Canadian teen drama series which follows the highs and lows of a dance troupe) two weeks ago, and promptly received praise for its portrayal of a same-sex relationship.
The scene saw characters Jude and Cleo embrace following an emotional duet in which they realised their feelings for each other.
'An important part of our mission'
In response to complaints, the national broadcaster insisted it was important to ensure that children of all sexualities are represented on their channel. It said that the decision to air the kiss had been taken "very carefully and after much consideration.”
The statement also conceded that the channel "could and should do more to reflect the lives of LGBTQ+ young people.
A statement from the BBC read, "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 Boatrocker (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.”
'Handled with sensitivity'
The broadcaster also noted that this was not the first time a same-sex kiss had featured on CBBC, referencing a 1994 episode of Byker Grove, as well as, more recently, on Jamie Johnson, 4 O Clock Club, Dixie, and Marrying Mum and Dad. The channel also criticised the double standards of complainants.
It said, "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.”