Writer Lee Hall

The British school that pulled out of a community opera penned by the writer of Billy Elliot has announced that it is now happy with the changes made to the text, which features a gay main character.

The performance of Beached, planned for 15 July, will now go ahead after writer Lee Hall agreed to replace the word “queer” with “gay”.

The line “Of course I’m queer/That’s why I left here” has been changed to “Of course I’m gay/That’s why I went away.”

Hall had accused the school of homophobia for demanding the changes, but Emma Hobbs, the principal of Bay Primary School in Bridlington, from which 300 children were cast for the opera, insisted that she needed to protect the children from “offensive language”.

In a statement, Hobbs and the East Riding of Yorkshire council said the revised lines were “now an age appropriate text which was all the school had requested”.

“Neither the council, school or Opera North have ever expressed any concern over the inclusion of a gay character, only some of the language and tone around the character’s identity. The writer has now addressed this.

“Homophobia does not exist in any of our organisations and we take great exception to how this has been played out over the last week and we refute all such claims.”

Meanwhile, Hall has threatened to sue the East Riding of Yorkshire council after it issued a statement claiming that the opera includes a character that is a paedophile.

The council has since retracted the statement.

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