A California student claims his school district ended the run of his high school’s play because its main character is gay.
According to a Change.org petition started by students in the Buchanan High School theatre department, the Clovis Unified School District canceled production of the Nobel Prize-winning play “No Exit” after its second show because it features a lesbian protagonist.
“The reason we were given for the cancellation was something along the lines of there’s a lesbian character and some parents may have to explain to their child that some women love other women,” wrote Jared Serpa, the play’s director.
Serpa, a senior at Buchanan, added that he and the rest of the cast are “deeply disappointed” in their community and hope that their petition will challenge the district’s “censorship…of homosexual themes.”
Kelly Azants, chief communications director at Clovis Unified, has since come out to say that the problem officials had with “No Exit” wasn’t its LGBT content, but its use of violence and strong language.
“Parents had many questions about it, and it’s not what they expected their children to see,” she told the New York Daily News. “It should have never gone this far.”
In a video shared on Twitter, Serpa argued that the cast shouldn’t be punished because parents don’t want to have conversations with their kids about sexuality and diversity.
“That just shows how cowardly the parent is for not talking to their child about reality… that the world they live in isn’t perfectly heterosexual like they want it to be,” the young director said.
a main point… pic.twitter.com/8Eb7Jf5jrC
— Jared Serpa (@shortclayton) January 21, 2017
Though Azants said that school officials “feel terrible” about the cancellation, there are no plans to bring the show back or to give Serpa an opportunity to direct another play.
As of this writing, the students’ petition has garnered nearly 3,500 signatures of its 5,000 goal.