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Away From Home

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Gender discrimination in Texas

Texas, once again, is enforcing gender stereotypes:


Singing soprano is for girls only in Texas' elite All-State Choir, eliminating a 17-year-old boy's chance to audition for a statewide honor and raising questions about gender discrimination.

The Texas Music Educators Association on June 15 denied a request from Mikhael Rawls to audition this fall as a soprano, a part traditionally sung by girls.

Rawls sings countertenor, a little known male voice part that has surged in popularity in classical and operatic circles. He can sing an octave and a half higher than most boys his age, and he feels most comfortable singing in that range.

He has even won first place as a soprano in the University Interscholastic League's competition two years in a row.

The association, however, does not allow boys to sing soprano or alto, or girls to sing tenor or bass.

. . .

Neither [association spokeswoman Amy] Lear nor association president Kerry Taylor could think of another male who ever wanted to audition for a traditional girl's part on the All-State Choir. Taylor said the policy doesn't amount to discrimination because Rawls can try out for any of the more traditional male parts.


Taylor's defense is just plain wrong. A school cannot bar girls from trying out for the football team on the grounds that "they can just try out for volleyball instead." A restaurant cannot refuse to serve minorities just because "they can eat at the restaurant next door."

Discrimination is one of the most asinine policies that society has ever come up with. I'm a firm believer in meritocracy. If Rawls is capable of singing soprano well enough to be part of the elite choir, then let him do it!

If Texas really wants the All-State Choir to be the best it can be, then it should take the best possible singers. It matters exactly zero whether he has an "M" or an "F" beside his name.

2 Comments:

  • I saw a news story about a countertenor some time ago, they're pretty amazing with how high their voices can go.

    By Blogger Logan C. Adams, at 6/30/2005 05:43:00 PM  

  • If their attitude had prevailed years ago, the world would've never had the famous castrati sopranos of Italy. I've never known a male soprano/countertenor, but I know a couple of women who are tenors (One's actually both alto and tenor).

    By Blogger Jay Denari, at 6/30/2005 06:09:00 PM  

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