Monday, March 16, 2009

Oklahoma teacher loses job over trying to put on play about Matthew Shepard's death

Greg Toppo has a disturbing story in USA Today Monday March 16, 2009, “Gay Themed Film Cost Oklahoma Teacher Her Job”, link here. The teacher, Debra Taylor at Granfield High School, had shown an HBO film version of the play “The Laramie Project” about the brutal 1998 death of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming. The students decided to do a class project with selected scenes from the play. The principal at first approved but then the Superintendent Ed Turlington tried to stop the play after controversy. When she complained, she was placed on paid leave with the recommendation of termination (apparently for “insubordination”).

The play was written by the Tectonic Theater Project.

There have been other controversies over teachers choosing controversial materials (not necessarily gay-related), such as with Connie Heermann at an Indiana high school for assigning “Freedom Writers”, written up on my issues blog June 29, 2008 (link), and stirring considerable discussion.

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