Sunday, December 5

Two Ohio high schools have now canceled fall productions of the same LGBTQ-themed play

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Though Hillsboro High School and Hudson High School are separated by more than 200 miles, they now share one thing in common: productions of the same LGBTQ-themed play have now been canceled on both of their stages.

Last Thursday, after weeks of rehearsal of “She Kills Monsters,” the Hillsboro High School cast was told by school administrators that the play in this southern Ohio city had been canceled due to the fact that one of the characters in the play might be gay.

“She Kills Monsters” was written by Qui Nguyen (“Raya and the Last Dragon”) and premiered in New York in 2011. After it opened and closed at the Flea Theater, the story of a group of teens finding themselves through Dungeons & Dragons took on a life of its own, becoming an immensely popular play for high school stages and college campuses. One of the characters in the show is implied—though not outright stated— to be gay.

Less than one month before Hillsboro’s production was set to premiere, the superintendent issued a statement saying “the fall play has been canceled this year because the play was not appropriate for our K-12 audience.”

In news reports covering the cancelation, families said they believe the decision was influenced by some local parents and a pastor who has been in support of canceling the play.

“She Kills Monsters” had already been cast before it was canceled on the first night of rehearsals.

Though the Hillsboro High School cancelation received some press coverage, the cancelation of that same play took place much more quietly in Hudson, Ohio.

On September 20, students at the northeast Ohio high school showed up for their first rehearsal of their fall production, only to find the principal in attendance. He let them know that they would no longer be performing “She Kills Monsters.”

When reached for comment, Jennifer Reece, manager of communications and alumni outreach, told The Buckeye Flame that “feedback” was received from “some students, a parent and staff members.”

“In particular, concerns from the GSA (Gender Sexuality Alliance) club were that some students did not like the depiction of characters in She Kills Monsters.  This led to conversations with our counselors, administration and the drama director.  It was decided that if the exact group we intended to feature and support in the production did not like how they were portrayed, it would be best to pivot to a different production.”

That “feedback” runs contrary to the near-universal and well-publicized praise for the LGBTQ+ themes in “She Kills Monsters,” with the play being hailed as the rare show where “queer kids are cool” and in which “LGBTQ roles have an empowering and uplifting impact on student artists in the LGBTQ community.”

Over the past few months, Hudson has been the focus of multiple heated debates about critical race theory (CRT), even though CRT is not something taught in Hudson schools. At the Hudson Board of Education meeting on September 27, Hudson resident Cara Wright referenced these recent voices of CRT dissent while expressing her concern over the cancelation of “She Kills Monsters.”

It is up to us to do our due diligence and not be intimidated or swayed by those who might disagree or have the loudest voices. It is far time that we stop the trajectory of fear that has been created within this district and our community that is disabling our community and our Board from creating a well-rounded experience for our children.

Thus I have a problem with the play “She Kills Monsters” being canceled at the last minute during the first practice after it had already been approved, auditions had occurred, roles were cast, and rehearsals were scheduled…By not running that play that exposes and thoughtfully delivers different experiences and perspectives, our children are being implicitly told that these different experiences don’t matter…Our children deserve better than this.

In Hillsboro, a fundraising campaign to produce “She Kills Monsters” during the summer—and thus not being sponsored by the school—has tripled their original goal of $5,000.

In Hudson, the fall production of “She Kills Monsters” was replaced with—seemingly without irony—”The Crucible.” 🔥

About Author

Ken Schneck is the Editor of The Buckeye Flame. He is the author of "Seriously, What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew" (2017), "LGBTQ Cleveland" (2018), "LGBTQ Columbus" (2019), and "LGBTQ Cincinnati" (2020). In his spare time, he is a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University.

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9 Comments

  1. Pingback: They needed $5K to stage their canceled high school play. They got...much more. - The Buckeye Flame

  2. Having lived across the city line from Hudson, I’m not surprised at all. My neighbors moved so that their kids didn’t have to go to Hudson schools.

  3. Just a FYI, Hudson High is working diligently with the LGBTQ+ students who did not understand the content of the play and who thought the charcters were an inaccurate representation of their community. According to the admin, the plan is for the play to be produced at the HS in the next 2 years

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  5. The producers of The Prom should give permission for the two high schools to produce their show in place of She Kills Monsters.

      • I was one of the two parents originally interviewed for news stories on this cancellation in Hillsboro. I can tell you that we are moving forward in better way than we ever could have before. Our students now feel empowered. They are dedicated to making this a wonderful production. We will probably even have rolls to fill for the production that will be moved off site. We can do it bigger and better, now that we have a budget. And we’ve already been offered several venues and are considering a short tour of the show. We are in the very early stages of planning, and the show would not take place until early June of next year. We may actually be forming our own theater troupe for this. It could be something that serves the youth of this community for years to come. For people interested in attendance or support, contact me. I will give one of my personal email addresses. ryan.cronan@yahoo.com And for anybody who really feels the need to express hate, bring it on. I love receiving hate mail. LOL.

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