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BBC training told journalists to lobby MPs on transgender rights

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 16/06/2022 Hayley Dixon
BBC - mikeinlondon/iStock Editorial © mikeinlondon/iStock Editorial BBC - mikeinlondon/iStock Editorial

BBC training instructed journalists to lobby politicians and protest for trans rights, raising questions about impartiality.

Trainee journalists were told to use their “magical ally powers” to “influence politicians” and change the minds of the media in favour of rights for people who wish to change gender.

One journalist who attended the training session, run by a trans group, said that it conflicted with the BBC’s code on impartiality and left him questioning whether he was being instructed to break those rules.

Stephen Nolan, a BBC presenter who revealed the training on his show, said that corporation staff “are not protesters, they are journalists”, adding: “If these new impressionable young trainees are being told at the beginning of their BBC careers to be lobbyists, how is your news impartial?”

The course run by Global Butterflies included a slide which told corporation staff to use “their magical ally powers”, and one of those present said that they “were given a lot of different points of how allies could use their influence to affect trans rights for people”.

The journalist, who remained anonymous, told The Nolan Show: “I realised that it talked about using your influence on politicians to affect change, which was sort of the main point that they were trying to get across. This is how you would affect change and influence politicians.”

Stephen Nolan © Provided by The Telegraph Stephen Nolan

The slide said: “An ally uses their privilege whatever that may be e.g. wealth, seniority, ethnicity, connections, social status, etc to access influencers for example leaders, celebrities – change the minds of the media, influence politicians, write or share stories and articles and tell people what is happening.”

The BBC, which said that the course was voluntary, said the slide had since been removed from the training.

The trainee added: “The second you join the BBC, impartiality is hammered into you and how we can’t influence people and you always have to be neutral. So as soon as I saw that I was thinking, ‘Well, how is that impartial?’”

He said that the training left him asking if his employers were “now telling us to break the impartiality”.


Video: Trans activists chant 'Tory scum' at the Education Secretary, during University of Warwick speech (The Telegraph)

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Another slide showed people holding up placards.

The journalist continued: “They said during the presentation ‘Don’t be afraid to protest’. Now at that point, I immediately threw a red flag in my mind because I knew that during my impartiality training... that we couldn’t attend protests. This was very clear.

“I’m left confused now as [to] what actually impartiality means because if we are being told one thing that we can’t go ahead and protest or use political influence, and now during a BBC training session, I am now being told to actually go ahead and use my political influence and start a protest,” the trainee said.

“Those were the things that I thought were a no-go as a BBC employee.”

Last year, the BBC pulled out of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme, saying that its participation raised questions over impartiality on issues such as trans rights, at a time when there is fierce debate about how they impact others, such as women.

Bev Jackson, the founder of the LGB Alliance, said: “We are deeply concerned by this apparent lapse in the BBC’s own rules on impartiality. The BBC director general says ‘impartiality is sacrosanct’.

“Therefore, we want to see the BBC end its commercial relationship with this, and similar, providers, and explain clearly to licence fee payers how they will prevent this happening again.”

Global Butterflies, which has previously offered trans and non-binary inclusion training to law firms and civil servants, urges employers to remove all gendered language from their policies.

Rachel Reese © Provided by The Telegraph Rachel Reese

Rachel Reese, the founder of the company, has previously described trans rights as a “battleground” and warned that “We are in Gilead” if trans rights are not advocated.

Global Butterflies has also suggested installing gender-neutral toilets and that companies should support a change in the law surrounding trans rights.

A BBC spokesman said: “This is a voluntary course and includes generic training materials provided by a third party. But the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines are sacrosanct, our staff know this and they understand their responsibilities.

“The slide in question has not been included previously and will be removed for any future sessions.”

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