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According to an article
published by 365gay.com News, a group of parents have protested against a school field trip to see the movie "Rent" at a local theatre.
Parents of students who attend Ponaganset High School in New Jersey have threatened to pull their teenage children from the trip.
"Rent" is a Broadway musical about the lives of young New Yorkers living in poverty and dealing with AIDS. Two of the characters in the musical are gay. The movie version of the Broadway musical opened recently.
In a meeting this week, School Committee co-chair, Donna Mansolillo, said, "The lifestyles depicted in this movie are not the majority, not the lifestyles of 99.9 percent of the kids that live in these two towns." She then went on to hand out a pamphlet from Focus on the Family which calls the movie and musical "an in-your-face glorification of homosexuality and lesbianism."
The other Committee co-chair, Gary King agreed with Mansolillo saying, "I'm not charged with the social education of students. I have to protect the integrity of students in our district."
Another memebr of the committee, however, disagreed and stood up with a very simple and reasonable solution.
"I just don't get what the problem is," Kelly Hunter said. "If you don't want your kid to go, don't sign the [permission] slip."
With all of this controversy going on, Committee member Hunter is the only member with a teen going on the trip and the Prinicipal of the high school has refused to cancel the trip; according to him the trip will encourage discussion, diversity and tolerance.
Oh yes, yes, yes. "...the trip will encourage discussion, diversity and tolerance." I couldn't agree more!
In February 2002, my high school honors choral ensemble travelled to New York City to sing in Carnegie Hall. While we were there we saw a few Broadway shows, one of them being "Rent."
I was "out" by then and I had already started the gay-straight alliance at Reynolds so everyone knew I was gay. Most people in the chorus didn't have a problem with it and if they did it wasn't anything major.
But, during the intermission, if you can imagine... a big bunch of Southern kids sitting in the middle of the theatre debating homosexuality and if it is a sin or if it isn't or if I should ask for forgiveness, yada yada yada. You get the idea... the Northern people sitting around us looked at us as if we had completely lost our minds. Actually, I think a few of them joined in on my side of the debate.
It was hilarious, but in the end it did a lot of good. There were a couple people I can think of who, by the time they graduated or I graduated, were more comfortable with me and my sexual orientation. I'm not going to say that "Rent" takes all the credit on that one, but I am sure that the night debating in the middle of the theatre had something to do with opening some of their eyes.