CBLDF and six other free expression and arts advocacy organizations today signed on to a letter from the National Coalition Against Censorship to Enfield (CT) High School regarding the recent cancellation of a planned student production of the rock opera American Idiot. The letter urges EHS to implement clear procedures for selecting plays and for protecting them from cancellation due to complaints from a few parents.
Before the play was called off last week, the Lamplighters student drama club was well into the planning stages for American Idiot and had even held preliminary auditions. Meanwhile, with the cooperation of the play’s publisher Music Theatre International, Lamplighters faculty advisor Nate Ferreira was also in the process of editing the original to produce a “modified script and production notes [which] maintain the integrity of the show, while removing profanity and the more adult scenarios in the original Broadway production.”
Nevertheless, it had become clear that some members of Lamplighters would be barred by their parents from participating in the production. Together with EHS principal Andrew Longey, Ferreira made the decision to call off what he described as “a show that most of the kids were extremely excited about” so that everyone who wanted to participate would be able to do so. According to the Hartford Courant, the Lamplighters have now opted to put on Little Shop of Horrors instead.
In the letter sent today, NCAC pointed out the “serious pedagogical and constitutional concerns” raised by allowing a few vocal parents to dictate the drama selection for all students. To avoid such situations in the future, the letter urges EHS to simply apply the existing school district policy regarding materials selection and challenges:
Enfield School District’s Policy 6163.1 for “The Selection of Education Resources”… bases its language on the School Library Bill of Rights and is intended for “all educational resources in the schools.” Policy 6163.1a, “Challenges to the Use of Educational Resources,” states that “No parent nor group of parents has the right to negate the use of educational resources for students other than his/her own child.
Check out the full letter embedded below.
Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.