Christopher Cronan, a student at the high school who was cast in the play, told WCPO he felt like they’d essentially been told their lives don’t matter. “I am openly bisexual in that school,” he added. “I have faced a lot of homophobia there, but I never expected them to cancel a play for a fictional character.”
The pastor, Jeff Lyle, for what it’s worth, confirmed to WCPO that he is in support of canceling the play, but says he never reached out to the school board about it. According to CBS affiliate, Local 12, Lyle and a group of parents confronted the director of the student production at a meeting about a week before the play was canceled.
“From a Biblical worldview this play is inappropriate for a number of reasons,” Lyle said. “E.g. sexual innuendo, implied sexual activity between unmarried persons, repeated use of foul language including taking the Lord’s name in vain.”
In a statement as reported by Out, Hillsboro City Schools Superintendent Tim Davis said the play was canceled because it was “not appropriate” for a kindergarten through 12th grade audience. Davis also denies that Lyle had any involvement in the decision to pull the play and says the change was instead made after an administrator read the full play.
The play, mind you, has actually become quite popular for student performances across the country since it premiered in New York in 2011. According to the Lexington Herald Leader, the school was using the Young Adventures Edition of the play, which is intended for audiences as young as 11. It’s also worth pointing out that productions in any setting can alter scripts to remove certain language, change ages, reframe scenes, or so on to better fit the target audience and comfort of those involved in the production. It’s legitimately difficult to think of a play or musical that would truly be appropriate (and entertaining) for a K-12 age group otherwise.
Parent Jon Polstra, who graduated from Hillsboro and has both a daughter and a son in the production, told Local12 the school’s call to cancel the show was “inappropriate” and “wrong.”
As of now, students have created a GoFundMe to raise money to try and put on the show as a community theater event instead.
You can check out snippets of interviews with both Polstra and Cronan below.