The BBC has hit back after receiving a number of homophobic complaints about a recent same-sex kiss on CBBC series The Next Step.
Last month, viewers of the Canadian children's dance drama saw two female characters, Jude (Molly Sanders) and Cleo (Dani Verayo), share a romantic kiss after a moving dance routine.
The uplifting moment, which served as a senstive vital piece of LGBTQ representation on a children's network, was widely praised when the episode landed on BBC iPlayer in July, but has since attracted a (sadly predictable) number of complaints.
Thankfully, the BBC is having none of it, and has stuck by the LGBTQ youth who'll have seen themselves represented on screen with a powerfully-worded statement shutting down the haters.
A statement published on the BBC website reads: "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 continues: "We believe that the storyline, and the kiss, was handled with sensitivity and without sensationalism, following as it did the portrayal of Jude & Cleo’s developing relationship and I’m afraid we do not agree that it was inappropriate for the audience age – 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.
"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 (contrary to what was reported in the press about The Next Step) 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."
The Next Step is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now.