Paula Vogel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning lesbian playwright, warns that a Florida school district's decision to cancel a production of one of her plays is a slippery slope to dangerous censorship.Students at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, a Jacksonville area magnet school, say they are experiencing anti-LGBTQ+ censorship ten months after Florida's Parental Rights in Education — also known as the "don't say gay" law — passed.As the school's theater troupe prepared to put on Paula Vogel's acclaimed 2015 play Indecent Duval County Public Schools board members blocked the performance, calling it "not age appropriate."The play deals with the fallout surrounding the play God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch, which got shut down on Broadway in 1923 and resulted in the producer and cast members being arrested and convicted on obscenity charges.
The performance was deemed obscene at the time because it involved a same-sex relationship."From what we've been told, they say that it's the adult sexual content in the show," 17-year-old Madeline Scotti tells The Advocate. "But then we rebutted that with saying that the only thing in the stage directions is a kiss and that language can be adapted from the playwright's permission."Scotti says that the district came up with additional justifications."[T]hen they said that it's the language, which, again, we rebutted with saying that, 'no, it's not, the playwright has allowed us to change certain words to make it more fitting for high school audiences,'" the teen continues."And obviously, we have assumptions about why this is happening at such a peculiar moment in the political climate, especially in Jacksonville," they tell The Advocate. "But that's what we miss them.