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High school drama students get lesson in homophobia, censorship

Students in the drama department of a Baltimore high school are fighting back after Hartford County School officials censored a scene from an upcoming production of “Almost, Maine.” The production, which is set to open on Nov. 10 at Bel Air High School, includes nine mini-dramas exploring falling in and out of love. The American Civil Liberties Union stepped in on behalf of the students when school officials took out a scene featuring two men professing their love.

The students say they are still prepared to perform the scene, called “They Fell.”

The scene at the heat of the debate features a humorous discovery of mutual attraction that doesn’t include any references to sexual behavior, and is even less suggestive than other scenes the school chose to leave in, where students kiss, remove clothing and leave the stage, suggesting sexual activity.

According to ACLU of Maryland Legal Director Deborah Jeon, much of the play focuses on the characters falling in love; the only difference here is that the two people in this scene both happen to be men.

So as Hartford County School officials are likely thinking right now, let’s get this straight: the Bel Air High School drama students are allowed to remove clothing and hint at sex as long as it’s between a male and female student. But an innocent scene between two men humorously sharing an exchange of love, which does not even hint at sexual activity, is somehow inappropriate for high school students to depict.

The students at Bel Air High are seeing right through it to the underlying issue of homophobia.

“I think it is important to speak out against homophobia and discrimination, and the full play can help students better understand that love is not something to be feared,” Julia Streett, a sound engineer with the production and the president of the school’s gay-straight alliance, said in a press release.

The students of Bel Air’s drama department are getting an early education on First Amendment and gay rights. We live in a country that glamorizes celebrity weddings like Kim Kardashian’s 72-day PR-debacle, but still shudders at two men sharing a legitimate exchange of love. The only reason for the school’s censorship is homophobia, pure and simple. Kudos to the high school students at Bel Air High School for being more accepting than the adults running the show.

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