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Emails Reveal School Lied About Canceling School Musical For 'Homosexual Themes' - VIDEO


Emails procured through Pennsylvania’s “Right To Know” law confirm that South Williamsport Jr/Sr High School cancelled a production of Monty Python’s Spamalot because it included a same-sex wedding, reports Think Progress.

The uncovered emails show that despite the school’s attempt to claim otherwise, the only justification for the cancellation given by Principal Jesse Smith was the play’s “homosexual themes.”

Records also prove that contrary to claims made by school district Superintendent Mark Stamm that the musical had not actually been canceled because it was only “under consideration,” Principal Smith had already signed a check for nearly $2,000 to order the licensing rights for the play last May. South-Williamsport-Spamalot-Check-638x262

In emails sent last June, Smith said that he was concerned about “a gay wedding being performed.” Musical director Dawn Burch replied, “I am fully aware of their place in the script and am not certain what offense they create,” noting that marriage equality had recently arrived in Pennsylvania.

Smith then explained that he was “not comfortable with Spamalot and its homosexual themes” because “this type of material [would make] it very hard” for families to attend. He added that he did not “want students to have to choose between their own personal beliefs and whether or not to take part in a production.”

When Burch wrote to Stamm that she found it “extremely disappointing that homosexuality would be the basis of not approving a show,” noting that “this is how we raise children to be haters,” the superintendent replied that he was familiar with Smith’s objections and stood by them.

Last year, a high school in Ottumwa, Iowa said that students could not perform The Laramie Project, Moisés Kaufman's play about the hate crime murder of gay Wyoming teen Matthew Shepard, because it is "too adult."

Watch South Williamsport Area School Board President John Engel, Jr., address a July 3 press conference on the controversy over the cancellation of the play, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. baby boomers have to die without a doubt

    Posted by: ppp | Aug 25, 2014 12:13:43 PM

  2. they would have flipped out had they seen my high school's 1998 Hamlet, where Hamlet was portrayed by four actresses, as a lesbian.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Aug 25, 2014 12:28:24 PM

  3. Another example of how central Pennsylvania is not gay friendly at all. I've lived here my entire life. The over all violence has lessened a lot over the past 20 years. The HATE, however has not.

    Posted by: David | Aug 25, 2014 1:29:02 PM

  4. Everyone who has NEVER see "Spamalot" or knows who "Monty Python" is, show of hands...

    Thought so.

    Really, PA? And I'll bet you think Jesus is white.

    Posted by: Rad | Aug 25, 2014 1:43:54 PM

  5. Wait a second. "He added that he did not 'want students to have to choose between their own personal beliefs and whether or not to take part in a production.'" In other words, he didn't want the children to make an adult decision that he, as a public school administrator, is charged with helping children learn to make? And that he gets to make that decision for them? This fellow should be fired from his job, as he's clearly not qualified to do it. Plus, he's already spent almost $2000 for rights; he's just gonna burn that money?

    Posted by: Chuck Mielke | Aug 25, 2014 1:57:50 PM

  6. They can't just alter the casting to avoid the same sex marriage issue?

    Posted by: The Milkman | Aug 25, 2014 2:12:54 PM

  7. "baby boomers have to die without a doubt"

    A large percentage of us baby boomers died in the eighties. Happy now?

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Aug 25, 2014 4:32:03 PM

  8. oh yeah! big surprise they lied!!! and this sets an example for the students how!?!??! Did they think the play would "turn" students gay???!? probably!! This type of prejudice and ignorance makes it doubly important to produce shows with diverse themes!! and to waste $2000 when most schools struggle for money......

    Posted by: Bernie | Aug 25, 2014 5:16:38 PM

  9. I'm a baby boomer. My siblings are baby boomers. Most of my collagues are baby boomers (I work in a school that is getting kind of gray). I'm an out gay, nearly everybody I know supports marriage equality. Boomers aren't the problem: bigots are.

    Posted by: Clayton | Aug 25, 2014 6:11:01 PM

  10. Hmm. No one ever worried in my school, with a large Jewish population, when we did Godspell. Families still came. Do I sense some hypocrisy here?

    But when it comes to marriage equality, which is a civil issue, suddenly it could create some kind of divide? What rubbish.

    Spamalot was a huge broadway hit with a semi-recent very successful revival. It's both modern and has plenty of nolstalgia. Lots of people have heard of it and everyone -- everyone -- loves Monty Python.

    This is EXACTLY the kind of musical a high school can do that would sell tickets, but is even better because it's something kids would want to do, too -- not just another rehash of Oklahoma!, Grease or the Wizard of Oz.

    This Principal allowed his bigotry to ruin something that a lot of high school kids look forward to more than anything else in their entire year -- their high school musical -- and these are often kids who don't otherwise fit in. Shame on him.

    There needs to be huge repercussions for this on his place at that school -- at the very least he needs to face a suspension.

    Posted by: R | Aug 25, 2014 8:14:05 PM

  11. You attended a PUBLIC school and they performed "Godspell?" How did they get away with that"

    Posted by: StudioTodd | Aug 26, 2014 7:46:08 PM

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