Ohio School Forces Students to Leave Play After Discovering it Features Gay Characters
Students from Notre Dame Academy in Toledo, Ohio were on a field trip to see The Nucracker at the House Theater of Chicago, a famously LGBTQ+ friendly playhouse that brilliantly casts outside gender lines.
Apparently, organizers of the 8th grade field trip hadn’t read the up on the progressive theatre company they were about to visit and were alarmed to find that two men were portraying gay fathers and Uncle Drosselmeyer, in a departure from the original material, is now an aunt.
As quickly as they’d shuffled into the playhouse to see the iconic holiday play, the students of the Catholic school- which counts Katie Holmes as an alumni- were rounded up by chaperones to make a quick exit, even before the play started.
News of the incident broke on twitter as Dan Amboyer, a theatre director and the Uncle of a current Notre Dame student expressed his disappointment in the decision.
Refusing to allow students to see the show due to its representation of LGBTQ+ characters seems a contradiction to the policy implemented by the administration of Notre Dame back in 2014.
In that policy, the school claims to support inclusivity across the LGBTQ+ spectrum in its student handbook, reading:
“We welcome all into this Gospel community including but not limited to people of all colors, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender expression, abilities, economic classes and nationalities. We receive and love all here as God’s children. Accordingly, we will not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”
After Amboyer’s tweets went viral, the school’s President, Ms. Kim Grilliot made an apologetic public statement, declaring the decision to force the teenagers to leave a “mistake.”
The Notre Dame Amuni community also issued an open letter to the Administrative staff condemning their divisive decision, saying, in part:
“As members of the NDA community, we are concerned by recent reports from students, administration, and parents about decisions made by members of the NDA administration that are inconsistent with the NDA Spirit of Inclusion policy. In particular, we are concerned about the decision to prevent students from viewing a production of The Nutcracker because it featured a same-sex couple.
We appreciate that in our experience as students, many NDA teachers fostered diverse perspectives and stressed the Catholic message of love and inclusion. We also appreciate the addition of the Spirit of Inclusion statement to school policy. However, in this instance, which is not unique in the NDA’s history on this issue, this policy was ignored in favor of a less compassionate and open-minded approach. We want all students to feel welcome at NDA. We also want graduates of Notre Dame to be prepared to be compassionate members of a world where the LGBTQIA+ community is increasingly visible and indisputably worthy of compassion, love, and understanding.”
Toledo, Ohio was awarded a 100 point score by the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index, which, according to the HRC website; “Examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ people who live and work there. Cities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership’s public position on equality.”
This comes after the Mother of a black transgender girl who was killed in Toledo in 2017, Jojo Striker, alleged that local police to her to “Leave it alone” when inquiring about her daughter’s murder. In 2015, Toledo also made headlines when a morning radio show shock jock, Denny Schaffer purchased a billboard less than a mile away from where a transgender woman was brutally beaten to near-death, mocking transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner. This year saw a Toledo Pride volunteer have his vehicle, set to participate in the parade, vandalized with an anti-gay slur.