School board goes back on decision to ban ‘gay’ play
A school board has cancelled its decision to pull funding from a school play because it told the story of two gay teens.
The Thames Valley District School Board has given back the $15,000 sponsorship of the production of Prom Queen by the Grand Theatre.
The play tells a story of a real-life gay teen couple who fought to go to their prom together.
The plays’ organisers at the High School Project in London, Ontario, had said that the school board had pulled the funding.
According to the organisers, the board and the London Catholic School District had decided to withhold a combined $30,000 from the costs of running the production.
While the Thames Valley School Board has reinstated the funding, the Catholic School District has said it will not be reversing its decision to cancel its contribution.
But the Grand Theatre said it is pleased with at least the partial victory, saying it will offer daytime matinees free of charge for students.
“We want to assure donors that the funds raised will be used exclusively to support the 2018 High School Project, a program that costs $250,000 to produce annually,” the theatre said in a statement.
But the reinstatement of the funds comes with an extra stipulation from Thames Valley.
The board said students attending the play will need to get permission from a parent in order to attend the play.
It also said the students would need to tell their parents about the subject matter of the play which it called “adult themes”.
“The play’s use of adult themes, stereotypes and offensive language were considered inappropriate for the High School Project, whose audience has traditionally included thousands of elementary school children,” it said.
Going on it said that teachers would be asked to put together guidelines for the plays suitability for different ages.
And it said materials would be made around the play to offer pre and post-play discussions with students to explain the subject matter.
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“I am delighted our administration has listened to the concerns of the community and has reconsidered its decision,” board chair Matt Reid said in a statement.
“The play is part of an uncomfortable conversation that we must have.”
The play tells the story of Marc Hall, a high school student who filed legal documents against the Durham Catholic District School Board, and won the right to take his boyfriend to his prom.
It was eventually turned into a film.
The Grand Theatre artistic director Dennis Garnhum said: “This is a Canadian musical about true events that happened to high school students, when one boy stood up and said, ‘I can make a difference in the world,’ and [won].”