A Texas high school has banned a Matthew Shepard play for no apparent reason

Without explanation, a Texas high school has canceled a student production of The Laramie Project — a play examining homophobia in the aftermath of Matthew Shepherd’s murder. Now local community members have banned together to protest the school board’s decision.

Last Friday, Timber Creek High School administrators sent a brief email explaining that The Laramie Project had been canceled.

“We understand that it is unusual for a production change like this to take place,” the email read. “Students will still have an opportunity to read, discuss, and analyze the play during the school day.”

The decision sparked outrage from students, who quickly launched a petition urging the school board to allow the play to be staged. As of writing, the petition has over 3,000 signatures.

“This play is a poignant depiction of queer history and highlights the lack of hate crime laws,” the petition read. “By banning this play, we are not only suppressing an important piece of history but also denying our students a chance to understand and empathize with the struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community.

“The absence of such narratives can lead to ignorance, prejudice, and discrimination. According to a 2019 report by the FBI, Texas ranks third in the nation for hate crimes (source: FBI Hate Crime Statistics). It’s essential that our education system works towards creating awareness about these issues rather than shying away from them.”

What made the cancellation even worse was the fact that at least one administrator hadn’t bothered to read the play. Dee, the student who organized the petition, shared an email on social media where district superintendent Tracy Johnson said, “For me, to read the script in an attempt to change my mind isn’t necessary because it was never about the subject matter.”

“Honestly even if they don’t reinstate the play, our biggest hope is that something like this doesn’t happen again,” Dee told PinkNews. “With all of the press attention they’re getting, it can’t possibly be putting the school in a positive light. We all just want the school board to read scripts before denying them as well as release all of the reasons why they denied this play and any future productions.”

Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother, also commented on the importance of staging the play, particularly for students near to Matthew’s age. “My heart is broken when people still refuse to see how important this work is,” she told The Dallas Morning News.

“It might scare some kids. And it might wake some kids up. And it might make kids want to make change — all of those things,” she added. “And they have the power to do it.”

Don't forget to share:
Tags: High School
Read More in Culture
The Latest on INTO