Opinion first, facts second.
I am so glad our boy goes to the local school here in South Lincs – and not Bay Primary up in Bridlington. How so?
Because since I began to transition, we’ve had little other than understanding and acceptance by the local parents and teachers. Which possibly may not have been the case were we residents of seaside town, Bridlington.
There, if you’ve been reading your news today, pupils from the local Bay Primary school were due to be participating later this month in a project directed by Lee Hall and supported by Opera North called “Beached”. Its billed as comedy with a fair dash of realism which, given that it comes from the same stable as “Billy Elliott” (also created by Lee Hall) seems likely.
Were I buying tickets for the show, I think I would expect a little bit of edgy humour, but mostly in a sugar coating.
But tough! If you were hoping to go see it, its been cancelled, because even after lengthy discussion with the director, there remained in it some references to one of the characters being gay. (This is where the facts bit comes in: I’m still trying to find out exactly what it is that the local school objects to, since the passage quoted seems pretty unexceptional).
Er, so this is about homophobia. Nah, nah, nah! Rapid shaking of head by all involved. They supposedly have no problems with gay persons and homosexuality in general. Its just that the language is “inappropriate” and pupils have the right to be protected from offensive language. Oh, how we twist words!
In an upbeat press release last year, the previous school head talked enthusiastically of how the school has been working with the local police to encourage pupils to take ownership of their behaviour (possibly code for the fact that actually they’re a bunch of little hooligans in need of discipline?).
As part of this session, the Bridlington Free Press reports:
“Every class in some way dealt with a hypothetical criminal act or situation from drug raids to being aware of stranger danger. Older pupils were “sworn in” as constables and given powers of investigation, search and arrest, having been briefly instructed in the basic principles of law and order.
“Other activities included; displays of riot equipment, underwater search unit, fingerprinting and DNA sampling, traffic control, battering rams, anti-dog shields and, on one occasion, a visit by the police horses.”
Strangely, the school seems to have taken some seriously backward steps over the last 12 months, since one of the reasons for objecting to the play, according to council officials, was “references to drug-taking”.
It doesn’t feel like the best of schools to send your child to. A recent Ofsted report suggested it mostly merited a grade 3, which is “satisfactory” – or one notch above “inadequate”. One of Ofsted’s recommendations was that the school “needed to improve pupils’ awareness and understanding of communities that were different from their own”.
Though given that the latest prospectus available from the school online talks only of freedom from discrimination on grounds of “gender, ethnic origin, socio-economic circumstance, disability or religion” (no mention of orientation!), perhaps this is not surprising. Or that amongst their visitors over the last few years were the Gideon Bible Society!
The real problem here, it seems, is an elision and a most worrying obsession. The elision starts with the 12-year-old boy in a biology class asked to consider the issue of gender and being presented with the s-word.
“Hey! She said “sex”! Fnaar! Fnaar!”.
Because, of course, in some quarters, sex is just one big THING, with little or no distinction made between sex as gender, sex as biological act. It’s elision, it’s confusion and it’s stupidity, as though any mention at all of the word will corrupt the poor darlings.
That is worrying, because if parents make such a mash-up of things, how on earth are their children to do otherwise?
Second, and the worry goes a step deeper, the issue of child protection is introduced. Why? Child protection becomes necessary when children are in danger from a predator of some kind. Not when they are about to be exposed to some sort of language.
But of course, buried somewhere within this miasma of stupidity is fear and bigotry. These parents can’t understand how someone can say the s-word and not, themselves, be interested in “doing it”. In a sense, that makes me worry greatly about the parents themselves. Are they so obsessed? Have they so little maturity when it comes to sex?
Apparently – if this call to pull out genuinely comes from that quarter – they don’t.
If the kids need protecting from anyone, its from these stupid and obsessive parents.
I’m so glad I don’t live in Bridlington.