We are family

I don’t know if you need another reason to boycott McDonalds, but they’ve provided it for us – you can’t visit queer sites like GayNZ or Rainbow Youth on their new free internal WiFi system for customers.

And why?  Because they’re not family-friendly apparently:

A McDonald’s New Zealand spokesperson said because the restaurants were for families, the Wi-Fi policy was that viewed content must be suitable for children to view.

“By this we mean a child cannot access a website where they can click on any content, link or third party advertisement and access sexually explicit content and images.”

GayNZ was a finalist in the Qantas Awards last year, for investigative journalism.  But the real issue here is which “families” we are talking about.

How about families with queer teenagers in them?

As GayNZ have put it, in an open letter to McDs:

We would like to take you up on your invitation to seek a review of your WiFi censorship policy, with particular reference to GayNZ.com, but for all websites containing sexuality-based information and content, much of which is extremely valuable, even life saving, for young people. 

 After eighteen year old Tyler Clementi killed himself when his room-mate filmed him having sex with another man and posted it on the Internet, thousands of people including famous types like Barack Obama and Justin Bieber followed the lead of columnist Dan Savage and his partner and posted videos on YouTube telling young queer people “It Gets Better”.

Because sadly Tyler wasn’t an anomaly in the USA, just as queer young people getting a hard time isn’t an anomaly in Aotearoa.  The last major survey of young people in secondary school, over 10 thousand of them, showed that half of young queer secondary school students had self-harmed in the previous year, and one third had seriously thought about suicide.  Half had been bullied in the previous year.

Love it or hate it, McDonalds is somewhere loads of teenagers still hang out in.  This ban is just plain family-unfriendly unless you don’t care about queer kids.

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One thought on “We are family

  1. Well said. This is just another way of ‘othering’ queer youth. Reminding them that they’re ‘different’ – it’s homophobia. Pure and simple. It’s also dangerous.

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