A high school teacher in Grandfield, Oklahoma lost her job for teaching The Laramie Project, the 11-year-old documentary-drama (first a play, then a movie) about the Wyoming town where Matthew Shepherd was murdered.
From local TV station KSWO:
A controversial play could cost [already has, since this story was posted] Grandfield High School teacher Debra Taylor her job. She teaches the school's Ethics and Street Law class, and says she was told by Superintendent Ed Turlington not to run a play titled "The Laramie Project." The play is about a gay person who was murdered.
Which isn't, strictly speaking, true. The play is about a town—profiled through interviews and journal entries—where a young gay person was murdered. Framing the play this way is part of the problem. It's not a "controversial gay play," it's an echo of and a variation on Our Town.
What the superintendent doesn't like about the play, I'd guess, has less to do with "a gay person" than with its depiction of a town where a gay person was beaten to death.
Elizabeth [a student] says the entire thing may have been a misunderstanding from the beginning. She says the superintendent should have given it more thought. "He just took it the wrong way," she said. "I don't think he read the script, or knew what the story was really about."
Which seems likely. If conservative superintendents and PTAs across the country actually read Shakespeare and parsed all the cunt jokes, they'd wipe him off the syllabus and there'd be hell to pay.
From the more-comprehensive USA Today:
The episode began in January, when Debra Taylor showed students at Grandfield High School The Laramie Project, a 2002 film based on the play of the same name, about the murder of Matthew Shepard. The students soon decided to film selected scenes themselves for an in-class project.
Taylor, 50, knew the project was controversial with strong language, but got her principal's permission. A few weeks into it, the principal told her to stop production. After students protested, she held a 20-minute ceremony in a nearby park in which students wrote their thoughts and rolled them into helium balloons, then released them.
The next day, Taylor says, Superintendent Ed Turlington canceled the class. After she complained to a school board member, Turlington put her on paid leave and recommended that she be fired. The school board approved her resignation Friday.
The comments on the story are, well, comments on a USA Today story:
I don't pretend to understand the whole gay thing, but everyone should learn to be tolerant. If you kill someone that is gay, how dose that make you better than him? You become far worse in my book.
Thanks for that, TruthFoundHere.
The Laramie Project, we should note, has been performed by high school students in New Jersey, Colorado, Massachussetts (where school officials had the guts to fend off outraged evangelicals), Michigan, New York, Iowa, and so on.
If you'd like to let the Grandfield School District know how you feel about what's going down, you can call the district at 580-479-3140, or email Superintendent Turlington at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, if you'd like a quick stroll around the towns, here's Laramie, Wyoming:
And here's Grandfield, Oklahoma: