Comedian Steve Martin is making headlines in La Grande, Oregon. His play Picasso at the Lapin Agile was scheduled to be performed by students at La Grande High School. The school board backed the superintendent’s decision to cancel it because of community concerns that the play includes “adult themes and content.” Now Steve Martin has offered to pay for an off-campus performance participants had been working to organize.
This is one of many examples of plays and books being banned from school campuses. The National Coalition Against Censorship is actually calling Oregon a “hotbed of censorship.” Do you think that is true? What should the limits be?
In Portland a fifth-grader at Llewellyn Elementary School was banned from performing in the school talent show because his act was deemed “insensitive.” He wore a mask similiar to one Barack Obama wore on Saturday Night Live and he danced to a rap parody called I Can Do Whatever I Like. After dress rehearsal he was told he couldn’t perform the dance while wearing a mask of the president.
And meanwhile in schools across the state, teachers and administrators and parents are trying to figure out what’s appropriate in the books kids read. At Crook County High School The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was pulled from freshman English class because of “inappropriate” content. And in Grants Pass a “Help the Forest” textbook was banned from a first grade class for being anti-logging.
What should be allowed at school? What should be censored? Are you a parent, teacher, student or community member who has concerns about what’s shown at schools? Has a book you’ve always wanted to read been kicked out of school? Has a play you’ve wanted to do been banned? Or is your neighborhood school allowing material that you think is questionable?
- Kevin Cahill: Teacher and drama coach at La Grande High School and director of Picasso at the Lapin Agile
- Tim Gerdes: Pastor at La Grande Church of the Nazarene and parent of a La Grande High School student
- Scott Lechert: Parent of Dru Lechert-Kelly, a fifth-grader at Llewellyn Elementary School
- Robb Cowie: Director of Communications for Portland Public Schools