Something in what you are about to read is indecent, offending against generally accepted standards of propriety or good taste; improper; vulgar. You, gentle reader, will have to decide what it is.
INDECENT (not in all caps) is the name Paula Vogel gave to her play about a play (The God of Vengeance) that she penned in 2015. The original play is about a Jewish brothel owner, his wife, and his daughter in Poland. The drama centers around the juxtaposition of the owner’s need to find respectability or rather to buy it in order to make a marital match for his daughter versus the daughter’s discovery that she is in love with one of the prostitutes.
Uh-oh, call out the morality police. Here in Florida, we don’t yet call them that or have an official department like we do with our election police, but in DeSantisLand, in a surreal Disney way, it will be the next development in our ongoing proclamations that this is where we murder Woke, oops the Kool-Aid wasn’t strong enough this morning, this is where Woke goes to die.
But yet, the ongoing damage from ill-considered laws like the Stop WOKE act or the Don’t Be Gay bill go beyond the debates about what exactly is and is not allowed. As predicted by many, these laws and the demeanor of DeSantis, in which he attacks anything that gins up the hard right base, have had a chilling effect on what school boards, superintendents, and school administrations are willing to tolerate.
Thus, in a district like the one Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) works in, it’s not about whether something actually violates the law or infringes upon parents’ rights, the rallying cry of groups like Moms 4 Liberty. It’s about avoiding the debate. It’s about shutting down a discussion of what may be and what may not be appropriate for minor children, particularly, adolescent teens. It’s about removing books so no one can show up to a school board meeting and rant during the public comment period. It’s about flying under the radar even though it’s too late for that.
Thus, one month ago, the district severed longstanding ties with a local non-profit organization that provided support services for LGBTQ youth. It decided that the organization’s work with 20-something gay adult men involved materials not appropriate for teenagers. Done. Over, although no one suggested that the organization had ever used inappropriate materials in its work in the schools to help LGBTQ youth deal with bullying issues.
Now, our nationally-recognized performing arts magnet high school had its planned production of Indecent scotched. A district spokesman said that it was due to the inappropriate adult sexual content in the play. Um, what was that? They’re not saying or, as Archie Bunker would say, “Case closed.”
Or maybe we should hear Mr. T in our heads, “I pity the principal who lets a play with LGBTQ themes be presented in her school.” But let’s not talk of bureaucratic games and how they might leave a school district in grinding mediocrity. Let’s not recall that a few years ago, a principal of the same school was sent to diversity training because she authorized a diversity training for the student body to address racist attitudes.
It’s rough being a teacher these days, but for a principal trying to do the right thing, it’s really rough. They have no union and work on one-year contracts.
So what’s indecent about Indecent? GOT suspects it was the lesbian love story in the original play. Written in Yiddish and presented across Europe to Jewish audiences, the original play penned by Sholem Asch was well-received. Brought to America, it did well in the Yiddish Theatre of New York. Then, someone got the idea to translate the play into English to present to a broader audience. Obscenity charges, arrests, and trials soon followed.
Indecent recounts that history. In essence, it sees itself as not a play about LGBTQ themes, but a play about censorship.
Can we talk here? Back in the day, it was one of Joan Rivers’s tag lines. Can we talk? Because that’s the point. All of the angst, handwringing, and panties-in-a-knot is about what is appropriate at what age.
We’re not allowed to talk about that per Moms 4 Liberty and their hero, DeSantis. They know what’s best for everyone. Case closed. Parents’ rights are not something they believe in. Parents’ rights is a convenient slogan to disguise their true intentions.
The school board and superintendent show no willingness to take this on. They don’t want the controversy. GOT doesn’t believe they are offended by LBGTQ issues or students, but that they view their primary duty as protecting the school system and that’s best achieved by chilling discussion about controversial issues.
Exactly what was indecent about Indecent? We would have to see the show to know. GOT doubts that the school district did the research necessary to really know. Scripts are not available. The only known recorded performance is behind a paywall. Did someone from the district take the time to sign up for the free trial (subscription fees start in 7 days) to watch?
Here’s the thing and everyone needs to hear this. Our children are not fragile. When they reach their teenage years, they are capable of handling tough issues and hard discussions. All they need are adults to facilitate to help them navigate their emotional responses and ideas about sensitive topics.
If you’re inclined to still object based on parents’ rights, know that the parents of every teenager involved in the show signed a permission form to allow their child to participate.
They say, “How can they censor a play about censorship?!”
Our future is safe in their hands. They are asking the right questions and that’s what’s important.