Hartford Public High School (pictures, left) is divided into four different academies based on student interests and aptitudes, and the play was performed for students in the “Nursing” and “Law and Government” academies. Adam Johnson, principal of the Law and Government school, told the Hartford Courant that he had no second thoughts about compelling the kids to see the salacious play. “This is as important of a topic to discuss as anything in math, anything in social studies,” he said. “I’m completely glad that we did it.” Similarly, while Nursing Academy principal David Chambers said he had considered sending a letter home allowing students to opt out of the objectionable play, he decided to forgo the courtesy to students and their parents because, he reasoned, as health care workers his students would be exposed to a wide variety of people.
As it happened, students didn’t need an opt-out letter to exit the performance. According to the Huffington Post, 30 minutes into the performance, after “two male actors shared a brief kiss on the lips on stage, a group of students, most of them male and many of them football players, got up and left the auditorium.”
Said Principal Johnson of the disgust of the students who “opted out” of the performance: “There are always circumstances under which the values of the student or their family come into play. It’s a balancing act of individual values and the expectations of the school [and] it was interesting, actually, seeing the apprehension.”
Even so, he said, when asked beforehand if he wanted to censor the kiss out of the performance for his students, Johnson declared:
… [A]bsolutely not. ... I think that we’re at a time in history where there is tremendous focus on bullying and the way students are treating each other, and how they are treated, in school. ... We have to teach students how to respect and honor each other. [The students] need to learn about the diversity of the world and respecting the rights of all people. [I’m] really glad that we did this program.
Added Principal Chambers of the performance and the reaction of those who walked out: “Even though it’s kind of chaotic, kind of wild and crazy, I see it as very successful. Our kids never deal with this, they keep it inside, and that’s that nervous energy. That’s why they walked out.”
Peter Wolfgang of the Family Institute of Connecticut had a different take on the moral chaos in the Hartford schools, arguing that school officials need more accountability in such instances. “In the community in general, we’re hearing outrage over this,” he said. “It shows the need for an opt-in law. Right now, parents do have the right to opt their kids out of things like this when they happen in Connecticut, but they don’t have the right to opt in. That’s how you wind up with situations like this, where kids are at the mercy of an unprincipled principal.”
He added that the political and moral climate in his state was ripe for just such an objectionable display. “Our state Supreme Court redefined marriage in our state three years ago by judicial fiat, and we warned at the time that this would lead to attacks on religious liberty, on parental rights.” Nonetheless, he added, “even we’re shocked at how true our predictions have turned out to be.”