I have been watching with great interest the debate about how different "communities" are under-represented in the Media (particularly on television).
We have Lenny Henry shouting about the lack of Black and Ethnic Minority actors, etc.
We have a list as long as my arm of females shouting about the lack of women (young or - more usually - more mature). I am honestly not sure how "Women" because a "community" but that is beside the point.
We even have some people crawling out of the woodwork who are saying there are not enough LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people, and disabled people on TV.
I have one thing to say about all the different people wanting to raise the public profile of their "pet" groups - they should all be very careful what they wish for. Yes, we need more of the "under-represented" communities in the media but we need to ensure they are not just there to compete with the "Mainstream" people.
What I mean is - I would prefer to watch a programme like "Mock The Week" - for example - with two panels of three high quality male comedians - instead of five high quality male comedians and one female who seems to be there not only to fufil a quota but also is not remotely funny (and resorts to stereotypically "male" humour to get a laugh).
I couldn't care less if you are a man, woman, white, ethnic minority, heterosexual, or a member of the LGBT community, or whether or not you have a disability. You are paid to entertain me on TV.
What I do have a problem with is the total ignorance of people about education around "Disability" (particularly educating children).
In most "Mainstream" schools people with disabilities are either swept under the carpet (metaphorically - but I get the idea that - if it was possible - certain establishments would prefer it if they could literally sweep people with disabiities under the carpet) or they are treated as some kind of "zoological experiment" - usually by the other children in their age group.
Instead of just gently telling children off when they call people things like "foureyes" and telling them that we don't say that to people because it is not very nice surely it is about time the children were taught about Disabilities in an "age-appropriate" way??? After all, children are getting sex education lessons from a youngish age.
Today I was amazed to learn that - whilst "Disability" does appear on the Personal, Social, and Health, Education (PSHE) curriculum for schools - it is not part of the statutory lessons which schools have to give.
The next question would be - who are the most appropriate people to teach the children (and other adults) about "Disability"??? Would it be (Heaven forbid) people who have read about "Disability" in a textbook, or worse, know someone with a disability but don't have it themselves??? Or would it be someone who has the particular disability under discussion - so that the audience can fire questions at them and get "honest, real life" answers to their questions???
The same would be applicable to Mental Health issues.
The reason I mentioned "Mailmerge" in the title to this blog post is because I feel that is exactly what needs to happen - we need to get into a situation where "Disabled" people are merged into the lives of children from a very young age. This would give them the opportunity to "get used" to them and feel comfortable around them. The children could also learn how to make life easier for the people with disabilities (not calling those of us who wear glasses with very thick lenses "four-eyes" would be a very good start) as well as asking questions in a such a way that they could usefully learn about "inclusion" as well.
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