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Laramie Project Called Obscene & Banned By School


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Laramie Project Called Obscene & Banned By School

by The Associated Press

Posted: September 11, 2005 4:00 pm ET

(Portland, Oregon) A local high school has canceled a play about a gay man, after the principal deemed the sexual content and the play's use of profanity offensive.

"The Laramie Project" was in production at Southridge High School when Principal Amy Gordon decided to pull the plug. She could not be reached for comment.

The play chronicles the true story of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay college student, who was killed seven years ago in Laramie, Wyo. The production — which has been performed at schools across the country including at a Hillsboro high school — pieces together the events surrounding the killing through the reactions of numerous residents of Laramie.

Members of the theater community are charging that the play is under attack because it features a gay character, not because of its sexual or vulgar content.

Wade Willis, Southridge theater arts director, chose the play for its educational value and the challenge it would present student actors, he said.

"Everything I hear about presenting something 'controversial' is that you have to put forth all sides," Willis told The Oregonian. "You can't be more complete than this in presenting multiple points of view."

But Maureen Wheeler, a spokeswoman for the school district, said the play is considered controversial because it contains profanities and sexual content.

She also said Willis failed to have the selection reviewed by the school's principal in keeping with the district's controversial materials policies.

Willis said he is holding a community meeting at the high school on Wednesday night to hear reactions from parents, students and community members.

At Century High School in Hillsboro, theater instructor Bill Johnson said "The Laramie Project" met initial resistance from school officials. It eventually ran after profanities and one sensitive scene were removed.

"We looked at it from a discrimination standpoint," Johnson said. "It's a murder story and the victim happened to be gay, and that's why he was killed. Why is this any different from Anne Frank, who was killed for her religion, or 'Romeo and Juliet'?"

©365Gay.com 2005

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