LGBTQ+ BBC staff are quitting due to the news service’s treatment of LGBTQ+ stories, specifically over reporting that focus on trans people.
Five ex-employees recently resigned due to feeling “hidden” and “ashamed” while working for the service, according to VICE World News.
One former employee, who is nonbinary, told VICE World News, “It is incredibly difficult to challenge BBC editors on transphobic content. Speaking up to senior members of staff, who may or may not one day be the person who decides whether you get a job, can be challenging. It feels like you’re putting your job on the line by even attending some of these conversations.”
In a Zoom listening session for members of the BBC’s Pride network held early this week leaked to VICE World News, current employees attending, from across the network, spoke about being “disappointed and frustrated” by problems that have emerged within the corporation.
The intense session ran longer than scheduled because of the number of issues that were raised by the participants. The session followed the huge backlash the BBC received after it published an article that claimed some trans women are rapists. A follow-up session is scheduled today to discuss the issues further.
“I know someone that walked out the other day over the article. I know someone else that left a couple of months ago. I know about eight trans people that left the organization in the past 12 months because they don’t believe that the BBC is impartial anymore,” one current BBC employee on the call said, reports VICE World News.
“My trans and LGBT friends have lost confidence in the BBC — I’m losing confidence in the BBC — and I’m considering whether my place should be in this organization,” another person on the call said.
This week the BBC confirmed it will not be renewing its membership of a workplace inclusion program run by the U.K. LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall, which was first reported by VICE World News last month. Shortly after the story ran, the BBC published a multi-part podcast focusing on Stonewall.
As Variety reported this week, Stephen Nolan released a 10-part investigative podcast examining whether Stonewall’s schemes had influenced BBC’s programming. Journalists questioned whether the BBC collaborated too closely with Stonewall. It featured examples of BBC internal policy and editorial output that seemed to break the services’ impartiality.
“The BBC is fully committed to being an industry-leading employer on LGBTQ+ inclusion,” the corporation said in a statement. “We are proud of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans colleagues and we support them to have fulfilling careers at the BBC.
“Along with many other U.K. employers, the BBC has participated in Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Program to support our objective to create a fully inclusive workplace. However, over time our participation in the Program has led some to question whether the BBC can be impartial when reporting on public policy debates where Stonewall is taking an active role. After careful consideration, we believe it is time to step back from the Diversity Champions Program and will also no longer participate in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.”
The BBC said that while it would not be participating in the program anymore it would still work with Stonewall.
In a statement, Stonewall told Variety, “It’s a shame that the BBC has decided not to renew their membership of our Diversity Champions program, but as with all membership programs, organizations come and go depending on what’s best for their inclusion journey at the time. We will continue to engage with the BBC on a number of fronts to champion support for LGBTQ+ colleagues and to represent our communities through their reporting.”
One employee who was on the call, according to VICE World News, said, “We really need to start looking internally at ourselves as the BBC, and ask a very simple question - what the f*** are we doing.”