Libraries aren’t the only places where parents are raising concerns about inappropriate sexual content accessible to children. High school drama departments are also waging debates over school plays from parents and school officials, The New York Times reported.
Actors, drama teachers and playwrights complained to the paper that the political climate and social media have put increased scrutiny on high school theater.
The report claimed that conservatives have raised objections to homosexuality in productions like “The Prom,” “Almost, Maine” and other popular shows, while there have been gripes about race depictions in “South Pacific” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and gender in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Grease.”
Teachers complained that plays that were acceptable in recent years are now controversial in certain parts of the country.
Equality Loudoun President Charlotte McConnell poses with LGBTQ-themed children’s’ books that she believes belong in classroom libraries across Virginia’s Loudoun County on Nov. 8, 2019. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
A playwright who had been writing for high school students for the past thirty years told the Times he had to reject a Florida high school’s request for him to remove a gay couple from his play. It sent a “terrible message” to the gay kids in the theater program, Stephen Gregg said.
“People are losing their jobs for booking the wrong musical,” Ralph Sevush, the executive director of business affairs at the Dramatists Guild of America said. “A polarized society is fighting out the culture wars in high schools.”
A report last April from PEN America, a group that challenges book bans, found that nearly 1,500 books were banned in the first half of the 2022-2023 school year.