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How the Central Academy of Technology and Arts' musical 'Jesus Christ Superstar' plunged into the ugly culture wars

future high school production jesus christ superstar torn In another North Carolina town, critics accuse it of promoting the so-called LGBTQ+ agenda, while students counter that their outrage is just the tip of the anti-trans, homophobic iceberg.

According to students at the Magnet School of the Central Academy of Technology and Arts, Monroe: jesus christ superstar announced in the summer. The school’s drama program’s Instagram page advertised a rock opera with its official logo. jesus christ superstara profile of two horseshoe-shaped angels, taken from the 1970 album release.

“2023 CATA Musical Reveal” read a since-deleted post that was later re-shared on the Union County community gossip page. “We have officially received the rights to produce an all-gender cast. [Jesus Christ Superstar] A place where anyone can play any role. “

Students will announce auditions to The Daily Beast, and high schools will announce auditions in September. jesus christ superstar A logo superimposed over the CATA initials, similar to the Progress Pride flag. The lettering is a rainbow color block design that changes to white, baby pink and blue, brown, and black.

I also read the post “Congratulations to everyone who submitted an audition” after it was deleted. “We are very proud of you and it was a lot of fun watching your singing and dancing videos. Thank you for taking the time to audition.”

On September 25th, after the first round of auditions, this account posted a callback list of the shortlisted students. The gender or gender of a role did not determine which student took on that role.

Productions can usually hit the stage without issue. CATA has a nationally renowned arts program and a “thriving theater and arts community,” says Tahira Stalberte, associate superintendent of communications and community relations at Union County Public Schools in her The Daily Beast. I spoke.

Students performed during the 2021-22 school year Heathers: Musicala play about teenage self-discovery that focuses on the need to fit in with popular crowds, rebellion, bullying, and even suicide. Despite the dark content, there were no complaints at all.

jesus christ superstar, Requiring a wide range of vocal abilities, the opera is a contemporary retelling of the story of Jesus’ final weeks before his crucifixion, incorporating rock songs that serve as an allegory for the current social climate. Multiple productions worldwide utilize his non-binary casting.

But what the students didn’t expect was the involvement of Moms for Liberty. This is an ultra-conservative national organization that has promoted book bans, attacked teachers of diverse backgrounds, and fought face mask and vaccine mandates under the guise of “parental rights.”

Members of the Union County chapter of Moms for Liberty expressed horror at the gender-diverse casting and the fact that the school’s logo was rainbow-colored and used to promote the show.

According to a screenshot provided to The Daily Beast by another member of the group, a parent posted “CATA moms here” on the chapter’s private Facebook group. “I’ve been quiet for a long time. I’m struggling with this new logo and this year’s play featuring a ‘gender-his inclusive’ cast of Jesus Christ his superstars.” why? I emailed… my concerns. If you feel guided, so should you. There is power in numbers! “

“So a girl can play Jesus and a boy can play Maria?! Oh my god. To.. NO!!!” commented another member of the Moms for Liberty Facebook group. “This is beyond disappointing. Union County parents need to speak up about this BS, even if their children are not directly affected.”

in the screenshot Union County Public Schools board member Gary Sides, who is also a member of the group, said the situation would be handled, according to a review by The Daily Beast.

“Update, it’s being processed,” he later wrote.

Central Academy of Technology and Arts

That’s when the issue evolved into an ugly campaign against members of the LGBTQ+ community, according to multiple students who told The Daily Beast.

“When I first saw that we were doing a gender-neutral casting, [for Jesus Christ Superstar]I was thrilled with the opportunity,” CATA Medical Academy Year 12 Evie Fraker told The Daily Beast. “[Now,] I feel like CATA and Union County as a whole are taking a big step back in terms of inclusivity and wanting all students and staff to feel safe. “

On September 27, CATA Principal Kevin Beals wrote a letter to staff members advising them that the use of pronouns in emails and “displaying” support for marginalized communities in classrooms is prohibited. reminded me.

“[W]Remind all staff members that classroom and professional social media accounts should not contain discriminatory content or content that could be seen as promoting an individual, group or agenda We have been asked to do so,” Beals wrote in a letter to staff. “We are asked to demonstrate neutrality in all posts, displays, and lessons.”

He continues: [district]- Accounts you own. “

“Furthermore,” Beals added, “any ‘reasonable display or notion that looks like sponsorship, endorsement or endorsement’ should be removed from the classroom.” This is all part of what the school district considers the standard of professionalism, and neutrality is key. “

Stalberte told The Daily Beast that the theater group’s Instagram post containing the rainbow logo was disapproved and contained an “inappropriate” addition to the school’s official logo.

In a statement, she added that employees are expected to adhere to the district’s email standards, including font color, style and size, for at least 10 years. Educator title; location; phone, fax, and mobile phone numbers. The standards cannot be changed “in any way” and should not contain anything related to religion, politics or “personal philosophies”.

Stalberte argued that the district school board did not discriminate against students pursuant to Title IX.

Their “neutral” stance is just a way of imposing their ideals on the school system.

Brody Martin of CATA Jr.

Still, students felt the timing of the school board’s decision to double down on these policies was questionable — so soon after Sides’ involvement.

“student [did] We don’t realize this policy is in force until after the drama is instigated in our Facebook group and the controversy stemming from our musical. It’s just a way to impose ideals on the school system, and it can harm those who are currently in the closet or without family support.”

“One of the amazing things about the show is that it’s completely gender-neutral. But teachers and administrators are getting backlash for this,” says Gabby Laatz, an 11th grade student at The Daily Beast. said in an email to “It’s hard to see as a queer student. When it comes to neutral statements, I feel like they’re saying my identity is unprofessional.”

Another student, 9th grader Blake Hudson, told The Daily Beast that her teacher had previously been an advocate regarding her own self-discovery process and helped defend her emotional well-being. , worried that the intervention of school district officials would prevent other students from developing similarly life-changing teacher-student relationships.

“For me, it’s like helping students find their voice and needing someone they look up to,” Hudson said. They helped me find my voice.”

Sides did not respond to the Daily Beast’s request for comment, nor did the Union County chapter of Moms for Liberty. definitely encourages you to talk to the principal or counselor, they are really supportive.

As the controversy raged, members of the community launched an online petition demanding that school districts be held accountable for discriminating students based on gender. , accused the board of trustees only when appropriate to their agenda, and not boards that support religious events such as intramural Bible studies.

“What should have been a great opportunity for all students to participate in the triumph and development of music has now turned into a culture war. [a]It will affect all teachers in the district,” the petition read.

“A small group of ‘concerned parents’ (remarkably, none of their children are participating in this particular arts program) from the militant national organization Moms for Liberty have been appointed members of the board of directors. Contacted and accused of gender selection. -Neutral casting for this play.

Petitioners demand that board members not exceed their obligations at a particular school, reverse educational policies on gender and identity, do not view pride flags as offensive or political symbols, and The Commission requested to attend a Title IX educational course.

“We know there should be no limits to what our young people can achieve, especially arbitrary things. We know that everyone in our community deserves to feel safe and supported,” the petition concluded.

Union County is no stranger to censoring the LGBTQ+ community, so for many residents this episode only scratches the surface of a deeper problem. According to CBS 17 Raleigh, June’s Pride event had Draghi Queen’s Story His Hour canceled after the organizers and their families received threats. WSOC-TV 9 reported that public libraries have also canceled their Pride event. Fox 8 Greensboro reported that a local restaurant held a drag show in August, gathering protesters who vowed to “keep these demons away from children.”

“I hope the school board realizes that neutrality is not an option for creating a safe environment and that the real answer should be inclusivity!” Raertz said in an email. “I think what they’re doing is just punishing teachers who want their students to feel safe and welcome in order to push their agenda.”

But despite the seemingly ongoing setbacks, Union County Public Schools has decided that CATA’s jesus christ superstar Not canceled.

The cast list for the show, which premieres in March 2023, was posted Saturday.