Fal Asrani, the principal of Corona del Mar High School who canceled their production of RENT due to homosexual content, has been known to show tolerance toward overtly violent anti-gay hate speech. In January three senior boys posted a public Facebook video calling for the rape and murder of a lesbian student. The several minute long video is especially shocking for the humor the boys find in their threats.
The horrified parents of the girl quickly notified the school's administration of the video and were deeply troubled at their response. The boys were suspended for five days. Earlier in the school year, these boys were suspended for two months for “streaking.” Apparently Asrani believes that seeing someone's bare butt is vastly worse than threats of murder and rape. Go figure.
The girl's parents sent an e-mail to Asrani expressing their regret at RENT's cancellation:
...your administration has sent a clear message that threatening sexual violence is a minor offense punishable by 5 days of suspension (though "streaking" is punishable by two months of suspension); that "gay bashing" (as was depicted throughout the Facebook video) is also merely a minor infraction and one that the school will not acknowledge (and thereby tacitly endorses); and that any attempt by the school community to address these issues in a positive and thoughtful way--a way that would encourage dialogue and understanding (i.e. producing a play like RENT), will be soundly squashed. The gay students who daily brave CDMHS, along with the young women who endure all forms of sexual harassment while you look the other way, deserve more from their school's administration.
Ronald Martin, the school's drama teacher, wrote me, “I knew that there was an increase in hate language and I wanted to do something before it got too far out of hand.” He had a meeting with the parents of everyone in the cast and they agreed to let their children perform.
Asrani now wants the students to perform You're A Good Man Charlie Brown instead of RENT. But, the members of the RENT cast that I've been in contact with haven't given up yet. They intend to push the issue, as they should.
Join the SAVE RENT group on Facebook.
(Correction- The girl in the video that the three boys suggest should be raped and murdered is not actually a lesbian. She is very involved in the drama program and has many gay friends. Several of whom the boys mock in the video.)