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School play with gay character canceled in Ohio. It was deemed ‘not appropriate’

·3 min read

Students at an Ohio high school have voiced frustration after their fall play was abruptly canceled last week.

The production of “She Kills Monsters” at Hillsboro High School was deemed “not appropriate for our K-12 audience,” Hillsboro City Schools Superintendent Tim Davis said in a statement to WKRC. The popular play, which has been performed throughout the country, features a character who is implied to be gay.

Parents who were upset about a gay character being in the show had confronted the play’s directors at a meeting, WKRC reported. The play was then canceled less than a month before opening night.

Jeff Lyle, a local pastor, was among the parents who took issue with the students performing the play. He told WKRC the play was inappropriate because of “implied sexual activity” and “use of foul language.”

The version that was going to be performed was the Young Adventures Edition, which is intended for audiences as young as 11 years old. It was slated to be the first ever play at the school to feature an LGBTQ+ character, according to the Hillsboro Against Racism & Discrimination group.

“An active choice was made to pander to homophobia,” the organization said in a Facebook post. “This choice is harmful and offensive to the LGBTQ+ community at large, but especially harms the LGBTQ+ students at HHS. It shows these kids that their hard work doesn’t matter, and creates an environment of fear. It shows them that if it comes down to protecting the feelings of homophobic people, or protecting them from discrimination, the school will choose the side of homophobia.”

The dramedy play follows a high schooler who is dealing with the death of her younger sister when she comes across her Dungeons & Dragons notebook. She is then “catapulted into a journey of discovery and action-packed adventure in the imaginary world that was her sister’s refuge.”

The New York Times said in a 2020 article the play is “hugely popular in high schools and colleges,” as it contains themes many students confront.

“It is very comedic, but it’s also very tragic,’’ a Texas theater teacher told the Times. “It dives into sexuality, which some people deem controversial even for high school-age students, unfortunately.’’

Christopher Cronan, a student at Hillsboro, told WCPO he was “devastated” when the role he spent months preparing for was called off.

“It felt like we had just been told, ‘Screw off and your lives don’t matter,’” Cronan told the TV station. “I am openly bisexual in that school and I have faced a lot of homophobia there, but I never expected them to cancel a play for a fictional character.”

But students still intend to perform the play — except they won’t be under the umbrella of the school. A GoFundMe was created to help the students perform the show in the summer as a community theater project.

Hillsboro students have been met with support by other actors, including those a part of the New Jersey Thespians organization.

“There is no place for homophobia in our society,” they said in a Facebook post. “Shame on this school board for creating a culture of hate, fear, and divisiveness. We stand with these students and hope you do too.”

Hillsboro is in southern Ohio about 60 miles east of Cincinnati.

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