The play “She Kills Monsters” is all about a young woman, Agnes, who dreams of a more exciting life only to find out her family’s been killed in a car accident. In an effort to learn more about her now-deceased sister, who loved Dungeons & Dragons, Agnes begins to play a module her sister had written… only to learn a lot more than she ever expected. Among other things, she learns her sister struggled with her sexuality and was the victim of bullying.
It’s a play that’s been performed hundreds of times at high schools and colleges over the past decade. The themes are hardly scandalous for a teenage audience.
But when a Christian pastor found out that Hillsboro High School in Ohio was going to put on the play next month, he began whining about it… and now the school has canceled all performances.
Student Christopher Cronan said he was devastated to learn he had spent months learning a new role that would not make the stage — blindsided when he learned of the decision to cancel. “It felt like we had just been told, ‘Screw off and your lives don’t matter,'” Cronan said. “I am openly bisexual in that school and I have faced a lot of homophobia there, but I never expected them to cancel a play for a fictional character.”
Students were told the play’s cancellation was due to the fact that it included topics “deemed inappropriate for K-12″… but this was a version of the show specifically adapted for a younger audience. What’s inappropriate? The implication that a character was a lesbian? Are any of these adults aware that high school students have no problem dealing with their LGBTQ classmates?
The bigot at the center of the storm appears to be Jeff Lyle of a church called Good News Gathering. Lyle didn’t speak with the school board but he confronted the directors of the show, he says, at the request of parents:
Lyle also said “from a Biblical worldview this play is inappropriate for a number of reasons, e.g. sexual innuendo, implied sexual activity between unmarried persons, repeated use of foul language including taking the Lord’s name in vain.”
In other words, Jeff Lyle is very upset about students acting human.
Does he also have a problem with Shakespeare? To Kill a Mockingbird? What about health class?
Why does Lyle’s church offer Bible classes for kids? Because that book includes rape, genocide, nudity, slavery, and incest. It’s all far worse than mild profanity and acknowledging that teens have sexual identities of their own — and it contains far less humanity than this play.
Lyle’s desire to live in a G-rated bubble because he’s too immature to cope with reality — while the student actors could’ve handled the subjects with ease — shouldn’t have made a difference here, but unfortunately the adults in charge caved in too quickly.
There’s one bright spot, though.
Zeb Pickering-Polstra, who graduated from the school and had younger siblings in the play, began a fundraiser to help the students stage an off-campus production of the show next summer. Even if the school’s not technically involved, the students’ work won’t go to waste. As of this writing, they’ve raised nearly double their $5,000 goal. Any donations that don’t fund the summer production “will be donated to a friendly cause.”
Jeff Lyle’s crusade could ultimately give these students an even bigger venue to stage a show with a message that’s far more compelling than anything they’ll ever hear in church.
So… thanks, I guess?
(Screenshot via YouTube)