Hampshire High School to permit performance of ‘The Prom,' reversing initial decision

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Students at Hampshire High School will be able to host "The Prom," a musical with LGBTQ+ themes, the school district's superintendent said Thursday, after initially halting the performance, citing safety concerns.

In a statement, Dr. Susan Harkin, superintendent of Community Unit School District 300, said the district reconsidered its initial decision and granted the school's request to host the musical in the spring following an outpouring of support from students and the school community.

The decision to disallow the performance was met with disdain from student performers and their parents, who believe that canceling the performance sends the wrong message, saying that not allowing the performance is silencing the voices of the LGBTQ+ community.

Harkin, writing in the statement, said the most important factor in granting approval for the musical was the development of a comprehensive safety plan.

A plan, which the superintendent said "provides the necessary protections for 'The Prom' to be performed within a safe and supportive environment," has since been created. The plan offers safeguards addressing a wide range of potential issues, including, but not limited to, potential harassment, bullying, and violence targeting LGBTQ+ students, performers, staff, and community members, the superintendent stated.

"While the district and each school have effective safety plans in place, I felt this production required an additional level of security due to a national rise in bullying, threats, and violence directed toward the LGBTQ+ community," Harkin stated.

Harkin has asked the Hampshire community to help ensure the safety of children and protect students from potential forms of harassment, bullying or violence.

"District 300 is dedicated to providing a welcoming and supportive community where every student feels a strong sense of belonging," she said in the statement. "We value offering students opportunities to participate in inclusive performances that represent and support all members of our school community."

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