Rowlett High School (TX) has canceled a scheduled production the musical, RENT: School Edition, after controversy arose over the play’s content. the Dallas Morning News reports:
After weeks of community debate and a packed school board meeting, the school’s theater director canceled the upcoming performances of Rent: School Edition.
”In light of everything that has happened, I need to think of my students first and foremost. They are dealing with pressures that they don’t need at their age,” theater director Brandon Tijerina wrote in a statement. “The best thing for my students is for me to cancel the show, not because of all of the controversy, but because I honestly truly care for my students.”
The play’s plot follows a group of friends in New York living the Bohemian lifestyle. It addresses topics such as drug use, homosexuality and HIV.
Some local residents said the subject matter is immoral or inappropriate for a high school audience. Others added that the play is anti-family and glamorizes stealing.
But students in the play and some parents said the musical addresses real-life consequences while promoting love and acceptance.
Those concerned about the themes and ideas of the musical had a right to voice their opinions. However, a discussion of parental concerns should not have been taken as a vote to censor the production.
If professionally made decisions to select educational material are subjected to a community vote, very little real world material on key, and hence sensitive, topics would enter schools. As the Supreme Court has ruled, any attempt to “eliminate everything that is objectionable…will leave public schools in shreds.” Students are better served by exposure to “controversial” material then by misguided – and unrealistic – attempts to shield them from such material.