LYNCHBURG, Va (WFXR) — A Lynchburg city council member is objecting to a musical being put on by two local high schools, calling the production “Anti-Christian” and demanding the resignation of the school superintendent.
Martin Misjuns, a Republican member of Lynchburg’s City Council, sent a letter to the school board demanding that the show be canceled.
The musical takes place in a conservative town in Indiana, where a high school girl is banned from taking her girlfriend to the prom because they’re in a same-sex relationship. When four Broadway actors hear about this, they try to help her and make a change.
Several characters in the play speak derisively about Christianity, with Misjuns objecting in particular to the phrases “bible thumping,” “cousin humping,” and “”Losers and their inbred wives.”
In a statement from Councilman Misjuns, he says the community should not be funding disrespect toward any race, religion, or creed– something he believes the production of “The Prom” is doing.
Heather Brand is the Music Director for the play but is not employed by Lynchburg City Schools.
She said the backlash is a result of a lack of context.
“If you actually cared enough to look past that knee-jerk reaction, you would see just how much it aligns with your values and you might even learn a thing or two that you haven’t thought of before,” said Brand.
In the play, several characters begin with dismissive attitudes towards the mostly christian residents of the small town, but eventually come to understand and empathize with them as the residents come to understand and accept the LGBT youth of the town.
Brand went on to say that she believes this response could put unnecessary weight on students’ shoulders.
“The fact that they now have to shoulder the burden, that adults that they are not associated with have piled on their shoulders, is unfair,” said Brand.
In his letter to the school superintendent, Misjuns said he wants legal counsel to review the play to determine if public money is being used to fund hate speech.
However, the play is itself being sponsored by the First Unitarian Church of Lynchburg. Church Official Courtney Sinha said they believe the show furthers its main message.
“We thought that this was a really good way to show that we are living love in the world because we are in support of the messaging that this play brought,” said Sinha.
Misjuns said that despite the context, any sort of anti-Christian sentiment coming from schools should not be allowed. He said he will not be supporting any school board members who think this performance is okay for our schools.
Brand added that before auditions, every student and parent was given a warning about the contents of the show so they could make a decision for themselves whether or not they wanted to be a part of it.
Brand said that the funds for the production come from sponsors, previous ticket sales, and donations. However, Misjuns says because they are using taxpayer-funded buildings, he believes the play should not be allowed to go on.
Despite Misjun’s objections, Chairman of the School board James Coleman confirmed that the last two shows on April 27 and 28 went ahead.