Opera North, By George Maddocks

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2011/jul/03/lee-hall-opera-north?CMP=twt_fd

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jul/04/opera-beached-pulled-school-protests

I grew up in the East Riding so I suspect that I am less confused by the opera north situation than many of my friends in London. Less confused but no less disgusted I should point out.

Its easy living in the south surrounded by diversity of all kinds to forget that there are large swathes of the country that are not. In this environment lines such as “I am a queer” and “I prefer a lad to a lass” have an incendiary quality that we struggle to understand from a southern perspective. This is especially true when primary schoolchildren are exposed to them. For more people than you would imagine this is still the presentation of a minority lifestyle which gives it an undue credence and risks spoiling their children.

This bigotry makes me angry, I would imagine it does so for many people and it is important to be angry about this. There are no shades of gray in this argument (as currently presented) but the body at fault does not seem to me to be Opera North but the parents and school involved.

It is the policy of the government to support and promote equal rights for homosexuals. If you ask the state to educate your children you have to accept this. If you don’t like that then your options are to educate your kids privately, or live somewhere else. The state is under no obligation to tolerate your homophobia, this is a simple and crucial point and one that should have been made by the school.

This also is the same for those who teach, in your professional capacity you are also obliged to support and promote equal rights for homosexuals, in issues pertaining to equality you are beholden to the state not too the parents of the children. If you don’t like that then pick another career or go private.

Progress is slowly made in the East Riding and will be entirely retarded if the government allows a 100,000GBP of taxpayers money to be wasted because a school isn’t prepared to adopt an appropriate attitude towards homosexuals. A great deal of pressure should be placed on Ed Vaizey to ensure that the project continues with the lyrics pertaining to homosexuality intact. Otherwise it is hard to see how Mr Vaizey can honestly suggest he is complying with this:

http://www.culture.gov.uk/about_us/working_with_us/7266.aspx

UPDATE – Opera North have posted a response on their website (http://operanorth.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/opera-norths-focus-on-bridlington/), it doesn’t help their case and it might have been better for them to simply start backtracking on the decision. Their assertion that the school doesn’t start teaching PHSE till the age of nine and so the performance would be unsuitable for the youngsters casts homosexuality in the same minority/different lifestyle bracket as mentioned before. It is no defence, insulting, and will only inflame the situation.

The assertion that “a celebratory performance of the last two years” is an appropriate replacement for the opera ignores the reality that the opera was pulled because of homophobia on the part of East Riding council and (no doubt) some parents. If you are going to take 100.000GBP of taxpayers money to put on a community performance you have to support the cultural outcomes outlined in the linked document above, if you can’t or won’t you shouldn’t take the money.

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