Known as one of the more progressive states in the midwest (one of the very few midwestern states that allow same sex marriage), Iowa is beginning to tarnish that image, or rather one local high school. Media attention is increasing after high school principal is denying students production on The Laramie Project, that is based on the life and senseless murder of Matthew Sheppard because the subject matter is too adult. Here’s more:
The Heartland Connection reports that Ottumwa High School Principal Mark Hanson nixed the show from being performed by the school’s drama club because he felt it was “too adult,” though he noted it “does preach a great message.”
Hanson’s decision was supported by Superintendent Davis Eidahl, who said he wanted “the focus of our Ottumwa High School productions to be for the entire family.” [………]
Officials for The Matthew Shepard Project responded to the controversy on their Facebook page, saying they were “disappointed” by the school’s decision:
“The story of what happened to Matthew and the impact on Laramie offers a meaningful opportunity to engage both the student population and the community in a conversation about hate and the violence it breeds.Teenagers -– whether they be in Iowa, New York City, or any other part of the country –- are living this ‘adult content’ every day in their schools, communities and homes. Students of all ages deal with the issues of bullying, hatred and bias on a daily basis.”
Why is this play not appropriate for high schoolers? This makes one wonder what would be considered “too adult” by these school administrators. Would they have no problems doing the world renown Shakespeare tragedy of Romeo & Juliet that centers on murder, suicide, destructive codependent personalities, drug use, child abuse, oversexualization of minors, delusions of grandeur, mob like mentality…I could go on but you get the point.
It’s always disheartening (and irksome) when educators use such blanket language that also servers as utter hypocrisy. The silver lining that these students will be able to produce the play off campus does not pacify not being able to do the play because of the vague reasoning behind the controversy. This play isn’t too adult for you. It’s too gay for these school administrators and this banning is an insult to not only those that have been working on producing this heartfelt, informative play and those that have dealt with or may still be dealing with bullying.
This is a family story, just not the type of family these school administrators are so loosely trying to justify. Families need to see what happens when ignorance and hate are allowed to grow into something horrible. How bullying is not acceptable in any form. We need to be brave enough and honest enough to show the world as it truly is so that we can learn from it. And after all the recent news of Trayvon Martin and others that have their lives shortened in this country only for it o be swept under the rug is more proof that the lesson of love and acceptance is something we can learn at any age.
Educate. Don’t discriminate.