Sexuality in soaps can be positive;Letter

1st October 1999 at 01:00
WRITING about sex education Trevor Phillips describes broadcasters as "guilty" of unlocking the stable door giving young people access to "the most common perversions" and to what "will do the necessary damage". (TES, September 17).

This is a very negative response. In recent research I interviewed a number of 16 to 18- year-old students on gay sexuality. One student who identified himself as a growing up gay, said that the media provided him with a sense that he was not alone.

It could be helpful to isolated gay and lesbian teenagers, most of whom are too frightened to talk to anyone, to have gay characters portrayed in soaps like EastEnders who are not caricatures and for whom sexual preference is not a matter of negativity.

When one considers the sensationalist and negative press reporting of gay issues, any positive treatment of gay sexuality may be a lifeline.

I am in total agreement with Mr Phillips' point about the need to educate parents. One of the interviewees in my study said that, on "coming out" in his mid-teens the response he got on telling his father was that he would rather see him dead than gay.

A course on parental values and human love may be of use Trevor.

Robert N Leach

Woking, Surrey

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