Good Morning America co-anchor Lara Spencer apologized Friday after facing backlash for making“insensitive” remarks about Prince George’s ballet lessons.
The controversy arose during the “Pop News” segment of the show about the future king of England heading back to school in the fall. Spencer gave viewers a rundown of the curriculum at his private school, St. Thomas’s Battersea, in London.
"Young Prince George, just six years old, heading back to school like so many kids around the world but unlike other kids his age, it sounds like the third in line to the throne is in for quite a demanding year," said Spencer. "In addition to the usual first or second grade things, like math, science and history, the future King of England will be putting down the Play-Doh to take on religious studies, computer programming, poetry and ballet, among other things."
Spencer’s colleague, George Stephanopoulos could be heard laughing in the background as well as the audience. She continued, "Prince William says Prince George absolutely loves ballet. I have news for you, Prince William: We'll see how long that lasts."
Spencer’s commentary sparked outrage from stars such as legendary dancer and choreographer Debbie Allen, who took to Twitter to share a video in which she condemned the Good Morning America co-anchor, saying "You owe not just the royal family, but the dance world an apology for poking fun at something we're very sensitive about — because we don't have enough money, enough opportunities in the arts for young people."
Choreographer Brian Friedman, who has worked with music artists such as Britney Spears, Cher, and Beyoncé, also chimed in saying that the hosts should be ashamed of their actions.
“Growing up as a dancer I was bullied horribly which is exactly what this is,” he shared on Instagram. “She is teaching the word that it is okay to laugh at boys for dancing and that is so sad. Just think about the young boys who may have seen this and could quit their passion at her expense. It infuriates me and I would appreciate everyone sharing this and forcing a public apology to Prince George, The Royal Family, all male dancers and all dancers in general for being so insensitive,”
Broadway actor Mauricio Martínez shared a video on Twitter showing kids learning ballet. “This is what happens when boys take ballet and cross borders when they grow up,” he wrote.
“My sincere apologies for an insensitive comment I made in pop news yesterday,” Spencer wrote to Instagram in a post. “From ballet to anything one wants to explore in life, I say GO FOR IT. I fully believe we should all be free to pursue our passions. Go climb your mountain-and love every minute of it.” Comments were disabled for the post. Some have said that Spencer must go further and issue the apology on air, as that’s where the comment was made.
Members of the dance community would like the incident to be used as a teaching moment. An online petition is asking Good Morning America to "produce a segment about the benefits of ballet training for young men."
“We imagine that such a segment will highlight the benefits of dance to young men who participate, especially those who face challenges of bullying and the stigmatization of their passion,” the petition says. “Often times, we see that those young men turn out to be the leaders of tomorrow in the arts, in business, in government, and among their peers in their communities. We hope to see these stories shared rather than an antiquated joke predicated on archaic and biased attitudes.”
The petition is nearing 23,000 signatures as of Saturday.