To the Ottumwa school district and superintendent:
As a graduate of the Ottumwa school district, I would like to voice a concern. I have been informed that you have recently turned down Mrs. Saunders the opportunity to direct “The Laramie Project” on the grounds that you wanted to avoid a controversy concerning this play. This play has been performed at countless high schools and theatre districts across the country in spite of controversy that you all seem to fear.
Let us think for a moment about the controversy you’re so afraid of. Is it because you fear what you may be exposing students to a play that depicts a murder? Is it because it’s about the torture of a young man that did not deserve it? Or is it because it is about a gay man?
Ladies and gentlemen, open a web browser and expose these students to the Internet for 10 minutes.
You will find more deplorable actions in those 10 minutes than the entire play that Mrs. Saunders wants to put on.
Do you truly believe that by denying this production you are protecting students from controversy? The deepest chambers of your hearts, do you truly believe that?
The message I read was that you feared that the controversy would overshadow these young individuals’ talents. I would like to disagree with that as well. By denying this play, you have ultimately overshadowed any involvement by these individuals with the media attention you are garnering with your decision.
However, you have now found yourself backed into a corner. If enough people pursue you to change your closed minds, then you will have listened to the voice of the community. If you stay on this course, you will forever be regarded as close minded and intolerant to the community.
I implore you. I have worked under the direction of Mrs. Saunders for my four years at the high school. There is no finer director for this show that you could find and no finer student body to produce this moving production. No one could reach the potential that they have, nobody could do this play the justice they can.