BBC invites anti-transgender parents on Today programme

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Parents who are suing a school for permitting a transgender child to express her identity were given an uncritical platform on the BBC’s Today show.

Nigel and Sally Rowe made a splash yesterday when they threatened to sue a school after pulling their child out of class over a transgender classmate.

The parents, who are supported by anti-LGBT lobbying group Christian Concern, claim the school had acted without “due regard” to their Christian principles by letting a transgender pupil wear a female uniform, including a skirt.

The pair, of the Isle of Wight, were given a platform to uncritically espouse their views on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, claiming that bullying against transgender people does not exist and rubbishing data on suicide risk without challenge.

The BBC’s coverage additionally failed to highlight the parents’ link to Christian Concern, which has ties to gay ‘cure’ practitioners and has lobbied against basic protections for LGBT people in the UK.

Nigel and Sally Rowe

No expert on transgender issues was interviewed, despite the broadcaster’s usually firm commitment to ‘balancing’ any pro-LGBT voices with anti-LGBT voices.

Speaking on Today, Ms Rowe claimed her son became “unhappy” being educated alongside a transgender pupil.

Rather than teaching him about individual differences and encouraging him to get over it, they instead decided to pull him out of the school and homeschool him.

She said: “If a child has got gender confusion, it needs to be done in a private setting. They need experts to help them. It needs to be dealt with in a private sphere.”

Her husband proceeds to rubbish the large amount of evidence about high levels of suicide and self-harm among trans youth who are not allowed to transition, and denied that anti-trans bullying exists.

Mr Rowe said: “I don’t believe this is the case. I don’t think people are bullying these [transgender] children in any way, shape or form.

“We’re challenging the school to say… what is the legal stance on this? I think many of the listeners would be very concerned that they’ve got their son or daughter coming to school dressed as a different gender.”

Mr Rowe added: “The fact there was dressing up in that manner, for us it was very difficult… But for our son, he’s brought up in a way that there are boys and there are girls.

“Boys in a school uniform don’t wear skirts, but you also have clothing, for example shoes, things like that.

“We’re worried about the welfare of all the children. We’re worried it’s going to cause confusion.”

He added: “We have a social understanding that you have boys and you have girls, and there’s a distinct difference between male and female.

“Also, within our DNA, is the way we are boys or girls. We feel there’s a political agenda that’s driving this and pushing this. We’re talking children that are as young as six years of age. We’re concerned about that.”

PinkNews asked the BBC to clarify:

* Why no attempt was made to balance the parents’ views on-air with an expert on transgender issues
* How the lack of balance complies with BBC policies
* If any approach was made to Mermaids, Stonewall, or any other expert in this field for advice prior to the segment
* Why the Rowes’ link with anti-LGBT lobbying group Christian Concern was not disclosed on air
* How many complaints have been lodged about the segment.

The BBC refused to answer any of our questions.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Mr and Mrs Rowe were interviewed about their personal decision to take their son out of his primary school and Sarah Montague questioned their views as Today audiences would expect whilst also reflecting what the law is and that the Director of Education for the area said pupils learn to respect diversity of all kinds.

“Today will continue to cover all aspects relating to issues of gender and identity.”