Thursday, September 22, 2005

Surrey Cancels Gay Play

School district says sex, violence and swearing unacceptable

Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun
Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Surrey school district has cancelled a high school production of a play designed to teach tolerance toward homosexuals.

The school district's administration says the play, The Laramie Project, contains sex, violence and foul language and is not appropriate as family entertainment.

Students at Elgin Park who showed up for auditions Tuesday were told the school district administration decided The Laramie Project, was not appropriate for the audience and could not be staged as a pre-Christmas production.

Doug Strachan, communications manager of the Surrey school district, said the decision to cancel the play -- which explores attitudes that led to the murder of a young gay man -- had nothing to do with the issue of homosexuality.

"The play wasn't appropriate as family entertainment."

Strachan said the play's content included sex, violence and foul language, which was considered inappropriate for elementary school siblings of students at the high school and grandparents who would likely be in the audience.

"It's not going ahead simply out of respect for and sensitivity of the audience," he added.

Well. I listened to Doug Strachan being interviewed this morning by Phillip Till on CKNW. There was time afterward for two calls in to the station, and both callers had pretty much the same thing to say: Strachan is blowing sunshine up your ass -- Surrey is homophobic!

Go on to read the rest of the story, and it will mention the Surrey school board's fight to keep three books out of the Surrey school system. The books deal with gay partner parents as a normal and viable life style. The battle took years. It cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Surrey lost. Then they decided they wanted the provincial government to pay the legal costs for a case they should never have instigated in the first place. The provincial government responded with a loud raspberry, and rightly so.

Strachan is wrong when he says that the play is better received by grades eleven and twelve. By that time, it's too late. Lifetime opinions and attitudes about other peoples' way of life are formed at a much younger age. This play needs to be seen by 12- and 13-year-olds, and perhaps even younger.

"Foul language" is one of the excuses being used to keep this play out of Surrey. Point out a ten-year-old who doesn't know the meaning of the word "fuck" and all its synonyms, never mind using them on a free-wheeling basis as punctuation marks in speech, and I'll show you a child who will never be able to communicate with you on any level.

Another objection to the play is the proposed timing of it -- Christmas. Not appropriate for Christmas.

No? Can anyone think of a better time of year to emphasise acceptance and understanding of other human beings?

Later on in the article:

The school's drama teacher has decided to do another play, The Crucible by Henry Miller, which is about censorship, she said.

I wonder if Strachan got the irony of it. Probably not.


Blogger Chimera said...

Stay tuned -- rumor has it that the play might be allowed, after all. I'll update when I know more...

Friday, September 23, 2005 1:02:00 PM  

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