Unusually for me, I'm a bit speechless over this.
Cerrie Burnell was born without her right hand. Aside from that, she is a regular human being who decided on acting and entertainment as a career.
She was cast as a presenter in the kids TV show CBeebees on BBC in the UK.
Not only have the BBC received several dozen official complaints about her, but blogs and internet chat boards have seen many more postings, calling for her to be removed from the show. All because she is missing one hand.
I may be a bit Pollyanna-ish about certain things in life but I'm slightly stunned that anyone would want a person removed from a kids show simply because they are missing a hand. Missing a head, perhaps. But a hand?
Using words like "disturbing" and "unsettling", and complaining that Ms. Burnell will cause "sleep problems" for their children, parents have also complained that she is frightening their little ones.
I have three small children of my own and knowing them as I do, they wouldn't be remotely frightened by someone's lack of a hand. They'd probably come right out and ask the person where their hand was and offer to look for it (hoping for a treat if they discovered it and fight over who found it first).
What a sad state of affairs it is when parents call for the removal of an otherwise bright, congenial and attractive woman, simply due to a disability. It is not the children who are frightened; it's the parents. Some have said that this TV host is "forcing" them to speak to their kids about disabilities and differences before they are ready but I'm left to wonder why there needs to be some big moment for these kinds of chats?
Disability is a part of many people's lives. And this young woman can only serve to show children (especially those with disabilities themselves) that they can grow up to be anything and do anything they want. What better role model could we ask for?
I wonder if these parents are bothered about overtly sexual overtones in shows that target tweens? Or the fact that thong underwear is now being sold for girls as young as six? Are these not the concerns that we, as parents, should be more focused on?
I'm not sure what is going on in the mind of someone as they pick up the phone to call for the removal of a kids TV host due to her missing hand. Heaven forbid they lose a limb of their own someday or give birth to a less than 'perfect' child.
We are all colors, all shapes, all faiths and all kinds. The sooner we parents let go of our prejudices the better. Because these prejudices filter down to our children, and otherwise innocent, all-accepting kids suddenly begin to think there is something wrong and frightening about someone who is merely missing a hand.
To learn a little more about Cerrie Burnell, click here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/presenters/cerrie_tv.shtml
If you would like to support Ms. Burnell, feel free to send a message to the BBC at www.bbc.co.uk/feedback
Would it bother you if a kids show had a host with a disability? What are your thoughts on the complaints the BBC has received regarding this issue?
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