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Students: Hillsboro High School play canceled over LGBT character

Hillsboro High School sign
Posted at 7:22 PM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 21:32:05-04

HILLSBORO, Ohio — Less than one month before opening night on their new auditorium stage, Hillsboro High School students learned they will not be performing their fall play.

"She Kills Monsters" was canceled Thursday after students said there were complaints about a gay character. The play follows a high school senior as she learns about her late sister's life. Along the way, it is implied her sister is gay.

Student Christopher Cronan said he was devastated to learn he had spent months learning a new role that would not make the stage — blindsided when he learned of the decision to cancel.

"It felt like we had just been told, 'Screw off and your lives don’t matter,'" Cronan said. "I am openly bisexual in that school and I have faced a lot of homophobia there, but I never expected them to cancel a play for a fictional character."

Cronan and his father, Ryan, attended a meeting where questions were raised about the play's sexual content. The district then informed students Thursday that "She Kills Monsters" would be canceled because it was "deemed inappropriate for K-12."

"They want to say the town is just not ready, but how are you not ready? It's 2021," Ryan Cronan said.

Families said they believe the decision was influenced by a pastor who has been in support of canceling the play.

“I think that’s wrong. All they would have had to do if they objected to something in the play was not go to the play," said Jon Polstra, a father of one of the actors.

While Jeff Lyle, teaching pastor at Good News Gathering, said he is in favor of canceling the play, he said in an email he never spoke to the school board, who he believes made the decision. Lyle said the play is "inappropriate for a number of reasons" — pointing to implied sexual activity between the unmarried, innuendo and foul language, but said he is not aware of any role he had in the play's cancellation.

Students are now trying to put on the play elsewhere, starting a GoFundMe for production. If they raise enough money, they plan to perform as a community theater in 2022.

"If we do raise enough money, I am going to be genuinely happy for a very long time, because that means people do care," Cronan said.