The media's recent acknowledgment of gay bullying in schools hasn't caught on across the board. This week, during a Connecticut high school's performance of a play involving a kiss between two male students, several audience members walked out; the unhappy viewers included a number of uniformed members of the school's football team, which principal Adam Johnson described as "almost symbolic."
The students at the Hartford Public High School were performing the musical 'Zanna, Don't!', a fictional story of a high school where academic excellence determines popularity and while homosexuality is the norm, heterosexuals feel compelled to hide their love.
The school was informed of the content of the performance beforehand, resulting in some students not attending the play and others having their parents excuse them for the day. Despite this warning, many students began to walk out after the kiss scene. School principal Adam Johnson described: "There was a public walkout by a bunch of students … mostly male. It was visually evident – due to the jerseys the team was wearing – that a lot of football players got up and walked out. It was almost a symbolic kind of thing."
Many of the parents also showed apprehension, one even showing up at the school with a Bible in tow speaking about homosexuals in, according to CBS, an "unflattering manner." Yet Principal Johnson showed no regrets over his decision to include the kiss: “I think that we’re at a time in history where there is tremendous focus on bullying and the way students are treating each other, and how they are treated, in school. We have to teach students how to respect and honor each other."
While there were negative reactions there was also a strong support for the performance and its message of acceptance. After the performance there was a talk back session with students and administrators where an open dialogue was started discussing issues of the LGBT community. In the words of participant Louise Provenzano: “Through humor … and music, we’re able to address uncomfortable topics and very serious issues for many.”
The students will perform 2 additional shows on October 21.