February 9, 2005
By David Bradley
A play written and directed by Stone Bridge High School students, which included a scene in which two male actors appeared to kiss, is being criticized by Delegate Dick Black and two Loudoun County Supervisors.
The play, “Postcards from Paradise,” was part of a cycle of one act plays, each directed by Stone Bridge students, performed in the school auditorium Feb. 3, 4 and 5.
When Black heard about the play – he was in Richmond for the General Assembly session during the play’s three-day run – he sent an e-mail to thousands of constituents, asking them to object to the play during the Feb. 8 School Board meeting in Leesburg.
In a written statement issued by his office Black said he was “upset” when he found out about the kiss and a line one of the actors then reportedly delivered to the audience: “You can’t tell me that there isn’t a little bit of me in every one of you.”
“The idea that our public school system is being used to promote a homosexual lifestyle is disturbing,” Black said. “When Christ’s name is banned in schools, and bricks with crosses on them are removed from Potomac Falls High School until a lawsuit forces them to be put back, it makes me feel that a double standard is being placed against people of faith. We are continuously lectured on the idea that we need to keep God out of the classroom. Am I now to believe that the reason we need to keep God out is so that homosexual teachings can have free reign?” Black’s release added.
Black wrote that he wants to know how the play was approved by the faculty at Stone Bridge. His comments were echoed in statements released by two Loudoun County Supervisors. In a widely distributed letter Mick Staton (R-Sugarland Run), Black’s son-in-law, characterized the line delivered after the kiss as “an attempt at shock value.”
“By addressing the audience in this manner, it crosses the line of discussion into advocacy,” Staton wrote. “Parents were not only offended at the shock value of this kiss, but also for the fact that it was implied that everyone in the audience was secretly hiding homosexual feelings.” Like Black, Staton wrote that he found the play particularly offensive because Christian symbols are not allowed in schools.
“When Christian views are forbidden because they are based in religion, but views in direct opposition to Christianity are allowed to be advocated in our public schools, I feel that a double standard has been created that treats people of faith like second class citizens,” Staton wrote. “We have banned the Ten Commandments in schools because they are a symbol of Christian religion. We do not even require children to say the pledge of allegiance for fear of offending someone’s beliefs. Why is it, then, that different groups are allowed to offend the beliefs of Christians with impunity?”
In an e-mail forwarded Feb. 8 to hundreds of his constituents Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) claimed the dispute proved correct his assertion, made late last year, that Loudoun County schools are promoting a “homosexual agenda.” In his e-mail Delgaudio urged recipients to tell the School Board that “you believe it is inappropriate to promote homosexuality in our public schools.”
In a statement he said he would deliver to the School Board, David Weintraub, President of the gay and lesbian advocacy group Equality Loudoun, described the controversy surrounding the student play as another in a growing list of examples of censorship and intolerance.
“Now we have Delegate Black and his little brigade of self-appointed thought-police in a snit because some students chose to produce a play that includes content about sexuality and identity,” Weintraub said.
“These censors think that if they can just forbid anyone from acknowledging or thinking about the truths that they don’t like, those truths will go away.
“The world doesn’t work that way,” Weintraub said.
School Board Joseph Guzman (Sugarland Run) said Tuesday that he had not seen the play. In general, Guzman said, “adult situations” should not be included in high school plays.
“I really don’t think that kind of thing has any place in schools,” Guzman said. “I think everything there needs to remain G-rated and family oriented. I’m really disappointed in the decision to allow this.”
The School Board was due to review a videotape of one performance of the play during their regular business meeting Tuesday night, Guzman said. While Black has suggested firing those responsible for the student play, Guzman said he expected no immediate action to be taken.