The USD 506 administration made a last-minute call to cancel the public performance of Labette County High School’s musical “The Theory of Relativity.”
Assistant Superintendent Tony Blackwell said the decision was made following a teaser performance Wednesday, which the high school students presented for middle school students, as is customary.
Blackwell said the situation was a little embarrassing. Heather Wilson, the theater director, provides the script and reviews to high school administration before a musical is chosen. The script is reviewed by the high school administration and they either approve or disapprove the choice.
In this case, the script was approved, but following the teaser Wednesday, Blackwell said the district received a lot of outcry from concerned parents and students who questioned the appropriateness of the content.
At issue was momentary reference to homosexuality and abortion.
While the musical has been performed in high schools across the nation, this is not the first time such matters have been raised as to if the subject matter at a few points is appropriate for high school students.
“We decided it was probably in the best interest of all students and parents and families to cancel the production for the public, but we are going to allow the students because of their time and effort to perform it tonight (Friday) just for their parents,” Blackwell said. “It’s one of those deals that because our productions are an extension of the classroom, we have control of the curriculum and we get to make those decisions. After giving it consideration, we felt we needed to do a better job. This was a failure on the administrations of the district office and high school from last spring that we didn’t do our due diligence. There is nothing that Mrs. Wilson or the kids did wrong. This is on the administration.”
Wilson was unavailable for comment on Friday.
“In the production, it brings up homosexuality, abortion, and those things we understand there are students in this day and age who don’t have parents to help them with those things at home. Those are topics we address if we need to or have to, but in my estimation it needs to be in a controlled environment, where when we do it as part of a production like this, they leave and they go and we don’t know what students aren’t going to be asking questions. If I had a seventh grade daughter that had attended this program, I would want to know,” Blackwell said. “We understand both sides of it, but in the long run I have to look out for the students who maybe don’t have somebody at home. If we address these kinds of subjects, it needs to be in a very controlled environment with social workers and counselors.
“I apologize that it happened.”