The drama group at an Arizona high school is under fire after performing skits that promoted homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, and suicide to a charity group that was reportedly offended by the content.
The performances, which occurred during the annual White Elephant Variety Appreciation Show at Walden Grove High School earlier this month, drew at least 20 complaints about their content, according to a local newspaper report. Superintendent Manny Valenzuela told the paper that due to an “unfortunate oversight,” five students performed skits dealing with suicide, sex, and homosexuality.
The audience was made up of volunteers to the White Elephant, a community charity that has provided nearly $28 million in donations over its 52-year history. Although there were some families with young children, most of those in attendance were retirees and senior citizens associated with the charity.
The high school’s drama instructor, Ben Lebovitz, was tasked with putting together short skits his students could perform in between set changes for the variety show. He then tasked his students with selecting pieces they had recently performed for state competition.
The skits, which were selected from a list approved by the national high school theatre association, included scenes from:
• “Almost, Maine”—a play that has been criticized in the past for “normalizing” same-sex relationships and containing sexually-explicit overtones and sexual innuendo.
• “Playwriting 101: The Rooftop Lesson”—a play that features a main character who is contemplating suicide by jumping off a tall building.
Valenzuela said the district would not discipline Lebovitz, who also sponsors the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, and is chairman of the Tucson Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network. The superintendent deemed the material only inappropriate due to “audience demographics.”