Californian high school students are outraged after saying their drama production has been canceled because one of the main characters is a lesbian.
At Buchanan High School in Clovis, CA, students worked for months to perform Jean-Paul Sartre play No Exit
Set in hell, it explores the lives of its three main characters – all deceased – who are locked in a room together for eternity as punishment for their sins.
It also discusses murder, torture and infidelity.
One of the characters, Inès, is a lesbian postal clerk who seduced her cousin’s wife and manipulated her into murdering her husband.
And now she seems to be the downfall of the high school’s production.
According to a petition set up by the students, Clovis Unified School District shut down the production hours before its second performance.
‘The reason we were given for the cancelation was something along the lines of there’s a lesbian character and some parents may have to explain to their child that some women love other women,’ the unnamed student who started the petition said.
‘That our audience doesn’t approve of homosexuality, and we should be playing to our audience.’
They also said they were ‘deeply disappointed’ in the community they considered ‘accepting and kind’, and claimed the School District upheld double standards towards LGBTI issues.
Buchanan High School student Jared Serpa, who directed the play, took to Twitter to present his side of the issue in a short video.
He says they were shut down due to audience complaints.
a main point… pic.twitter.com/8Eb7Jf5jrC
— Jared Serpa (@shortclayton) January 21, 2017
He says one of the biggest complaints presented to him was that a character is lesbian.
Serpa says the administrator told him it could get a parent who took their child to see the show ‘in a sticky situation’, should the child ask questions about why one woman is trying to kiss another.
‘That shows how cowardice the parent is for not talking to their child about reality and telling them that the world that they live in isn’t perfectly heterosexual like they want it to be,’ Serpa said.
‘Talk with your children about reality. Don’t put them in this bubble and darkness … because you couldn’t find the courage to talk to your own child about the fact that people are different.’
Kelly Avants, chief communications director at Clovis Unified School District, said the cancelation had nothing to do with a character’s homosexuality, but was because it discusses mature themes.
She said it should never have been approved in the first place, as No Exit is typically read as part of Advanced Placement courses.
‘Being a K-12 institution, the expectation of our drama programs is that every production they do is to be age-appropriate content,’ she told the Fresno Bee.
‘We have done multiple other shows at the high school level that includes lesbian, gay or questioning characters. We would never think that that was reason to cancel a play, and certainly not after the play’s already going.’
In 2016, Clovis Unified already made headlines when trustees voted against a new dress code which would no longer have declared dresses and skirts to be only for girls.
The school board later voted in favor of a gender-neutral dress code.