Just when we think we have come a long way in confronting stereotypes, we are forced to admit what an exhaustingly long road has yet to be travelled.

The BBC have employed a rather easy on the eye, well-qualified woman presenter on the CBeebies kids channel.

And parents have complained.

Not because it’s yet another attractive blond on tv, but because one of her arms finishes just beneath the elbow.

And parents have been writing in to website forums to complain that the sight of her will scare their children and give them nightmares.

Can our society still be this backward? At a time when we are assured that our schools have a mix of disabled and non-disabled children, and our children see all kinds of different kids in their daily lives, what hope that they grow up without prejudice when they get home from school, and some parents peddle this fear and hatred of difference?

How big a jump is it from “get her off my telly” to “get her off my street”?

What do we do about challenging these views, so that we can grow up as a society and stop pandering to fears that would be at home in the Dark Ages (or Nazi Germany)?

Should these parents be punished or chastised for saying what they think? Absolutely not.

No mind is changed without informed debate.

But we should ask ourselves how it is, in the twenty-first century, that for some of us, disabled people are so absent from our screens (and therefore our consciousness) that when we do see one, it provokes uninhibited fear from some parents.


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