Florida school bans theater production for LGBT themes (includes video story)

At a Jacksonville school, a student production of “Indecent,” the play by Paula Vogel, was banned for its LGBT themes.

The play’s dramaturg and lead actor, Madeline Scotti, had spent all day in rehearsals with her classmates when she learned the show had been canceled. At first, she thought it was a joke.

“At first, it was heartbreaking,” said Scotti. “When our producer told us, it was so devastating. It felt like all of our hearts had been ripped out.”

The 2015 play tells the story of the Yiddish play “God of Vengeance,” which was censored on Broadway in 1923 for its depiction of a lesbian relationship.

The principal of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts notified parents about “Indecent’s” cancellation via email, saying that the new show, “The Seagull,” was more suitable for student performers and audiences. Many are drawing a connection between the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, as the law is commonly known, and the play’s shutdown.

Though the show wasn’t canceled directly because of the law, people fear the legislation is empowering censorship of queer topics. Florida Gov. Ron Desantis rejected the AP African American Studies course in part because of its material on queer theory, saying that it’s part of a political agenda.

“Now, who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory?” said DeSantis. “That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids.”

The play has received support from various organizations, including the National Coalition Against Censorship. They released statements on both censorship matters in Florida, urging the school to resume the play and for the state to reconsider its decision on the AP class.

“I think the reason that [the show’s cancelation] got so much attention is because the entire play is based in the detrimental effects of censorship,” Scotti said. “So of course when our play is being censored, it’s going to gain national attention, because why wouldn’t it?”

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Natalie La Roche is a senior double majoring in journalism and English. Her love for writing has taught her the power of words in inspiring change, whether personal or global. She loves poetry and wishes to write in journalism and poetry in her future career.