Orange County High School Principal Bans ‘Gay Characters’ in Drama Department

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HATE SCHOOL MUSICAL — “My alma mater, Corona del Mar High School, in Newport Beach, CA (in Orange Country) has banned the portrayal of gay characters in their high school drama dept,” writes a concerned reader. “This has not yet hit news, but below is a letter that one of the students sent to recent alumni that has now trickled up to some of us older folks.” And now, it’s trickled up to Queerty readers:

Continues our former student: “I confirmed the story with one of the teachers that still works there who I have gotten in touch with. Many of the alumni have contacted the ACLU, but as this letter has just gone out today there’s no word yet about what’s happening, there.

“I intend to write the local paper, the Daily Pilot, in conjunction with some other alumni.

“I have deleted his name from the bottom of the aforementioned letter in case the author faces some sort of backlash from the administration, as s/he is still a student (obviously).”

And here’s the news:

Hello everyone,

Today, most of the cast of RENT was informed that our show was
cancelled. Even though we had yet to begin rehearsals, we were
justifiably shocked and demanded to know what the reason behind this
was. In the past, there have been minor complaints here and there
about the content of some of our shows; though Mr. Martin, our
director, is very conscientious about the limits of free expression in
a school setting, we inevitably catch some parents off-guard with
occasional profanity or sexual innuendos. However, the reason for the
cancellation of RENT is much more disturbing.

Mrs. Asrani (the principal) is firmly against the portrayal of
homosexual characters in RENT, despite the fact that all displays of
affection have already been edited out of our script.
Of course, a gay
couple kissing on stage should not be inherently more offensive than a
straight couple kissing, but that’s beside the point (sort of). The
fact that the administration would not even allow a positive PORTRAYAL
of these gay characters, whose romantic tendencies have already been
neutered in Musical Theater International’s “RENT: School Edition”, is
appalling.

You do not need to be a fan of RENT, a member of the Drama Department,
or a homosexual person to take offense to this blatant form of
discrimination. Of course, there is much more disturbing content in
RENT, which we would have been happy to omit if the School Edition did
not do so already, but it was readily apparent that gay characters
were strictly taboo. This is not the first time this has come up: the
administration reacted with outrage to a monologue from our last
musical, “No Reservations”, that sympathetically portrayed a gay
character. Though there was nothing remotely offensive about the
monologue, they were clearly not okay with it, and that is what led
them to take action and prevent us from producing what was sure to be
a great spring musical.

If you are at all disturbed, offended, or shocked by what our
administration has communicated to us, I urge you not to dismiss what
has just happened. Our administration has sent out a very clear
message that they think homosexuality is wrong and its portrayal
onstage is harmful or objectionable in some way. Instead of focusing
on the life-affirming, empowering message of RENT, they approached the
work with narrow-mindededness and rejected it BEFORE THEY EVEN READ
THE SCRIPT.

Do not sit by and allow things like this to keep happening. Our school
prides itself on its association with humanitarian organizations and
its label as a “No Place For Hate School”, but those distinctions feel
incredibly hollow to me now. Though the Drama Department has already
began the process of selecting a new spring musical, we plan to take
action to defend our rights of free speech and express our concerns.

The number for the ACLU’s (American Civil Liberties Union) Southern
California division is (213) 977-9500. I plan on calling tomorrow. To
me, this is about much more than our spring musical; it is about a
principle. I would hate to leave CdM knowing that I did nothing to
prevent, in some way, a form of discrimination that was encouraged
within our own school.

It would be best if the angry parent phone calls and emails to CdM
were kept to a bare minimum for the time being. Focus your energy, if
you have any desire to, on contacting the ACLU. They are experienced
in these matters, and there is a correct way to do this. For anyone
who is interested, I would love to keep you posted on any updates I
get through my communication with them and with my drama director.

Thanks so much for reading through this rather lengthy letter…it’s
not easy for me to be concise on a subject like this.