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High School Refuses Student Production of 'Laramie Project'

By Sunnivie Brydum

Administrators at Ottumwa High School in Ottumwa, Iowa will not allow a student-run production of The Laramie Project to be performed on school grounds, reports USA Today.

But the drama teacher behind the production said she's secured a performance space in the local arts center instead. The Laramie Project

Administrators told USA Today they were hoping to head off a controversy before it began, sinceThe Laramie Project explores reaction in the small Wyoming town to the 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard. The play was written by Moises Kaufman in 2000, and has since its creation inspired a sequel called The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later.

But students at OHS are confused by the school's decision to ban the production, especially given the 2012 suicide of a 14-year-old from Primghar who had come out to his classmates and was subsequently taunted on Facebook. Adding to the confusion, Gov. Chet Culver signed antibullying legislation into law last year. 

"It doesn't make any sense," OHS junior and drama club member Jordan Young told USA Today. "This is a show that deals specifically with bullying and the outcome that it had on an entire town because of one bullying incident. If they're trying to get rid of bullying, then why would they say 'no' to this show?"

Principal Mark Hanson told USA Today that he agrees with the play's message, but doesn't feel the venue is appropriate. 

"Could we have done it? Yeah," Hanson admitted. "We were on the fence with it, but we came to the conclusion that it would be better at a community theater."

Read more here

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, isolation, or thoughts of suicide, contact The Trevor Project's free, confidential Lifeline at 1-866-488-7356.

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