BBC flooded with complaints after CBBC airs teenage same-sex kiss

The BBC has been flooded with more than ‘100 complaints’ after CBBC aired a teenage same-sex kiss.

Thousands of children tuned into CBBC last month to catch two teenage girls in love share their first kiss in Canadian drama The Next Step.

The Next Step follows members of a competitive dance studio, and during its latest episode friends, Jude (Molly Sanders) and Cleo (Dani Verago) performed a duet to Brave by singer Shane Harte, where it became clear there was much more than a friendship boiling between them.

And while many viewers praised CBBC for airing the same-sex kiss, other viewers were not happy about it.

Taking to its website, the BBC stated: ‘We have received complaints about a storyline involving a same-sex kiss.’

While the BBC hasn’t revealed the number of complaints they have received, understands they will have received more than 100 from viewers.

The BBC has since responded to the complaints, defending their decision to air the teenage kiss.

In a statement released to their website, the BBC said: ‘The decision to include this moment, as part of a longer storyline throughout series 7 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.’

The statement went on to add that the BBC believe the storyline was ‘handled with sensitivity’ and that it wasn’t ‘inappropriate for the audience age’.

‘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,’ the statement continued.

‘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.’

The statement concluded with the BBC explaining that The Next Step isn’t the first show to air a same-sex kiss.

The statement added: ‘At Children’s BBC, we are proud to reflect all areas of children’s lives across our factual and fictional output. Same-sex relationships have already featured in other CBBC shows such as Jamie Johnson, 4 O Clock Club, Dixie and Marrying Mum and Dad, and the first same-sex kiss on CBBC was in fact in Byker Grove, many years ago. 

‘This moment in The Next Step is merely one story among a myriad of voices and experiences across our output.’

Despite the complaints from viewers, Eloise Stonborough, Head of Policy and Research at Stonewall praised the scene.

Speaking to she explained why Jude and Cleo’s kiss is such a monumental moment:

‘Jude and Cleo’s kiss on CBBC’s teen drama, The Next Step is an exciting moment for LGBT representation,’ Eloise told us. ‘It’s important for everyone to be able to see themselves in mainstream media and to know they have a place in society. 

‘When lesbian, gay, bi and trans people aren’t reflected in what they watch, young LGBT people can get the impression that there is something is different or wrong about them. 

‘Representation can help young LGBT people understand themselves by relating to lesbian, gay, bi and trans characters, and improves understanding of what it means to be lesbian, gay, bi or trans, which helps everyone to be more accepting.’

The Next Step is available to stream on BBC iPlayer. 

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