Controversial Jacksonville high school production canceled for “adult sexual dialogue”

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The original spring play production at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts is cancelled, after controversy over the play’s story line. It contains a same sex relationship.


Several students, parents and even some alumni were outraged over the cancellation of the well-know Broadway play, Indecent. School officials said the play contains “adult sexual dialogue,” hence the ban.

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“They are trying to tell us that this play is dirty, immoral, obscene, and of course indecent,” Madeline Scotti said. “By that nature, they trying to tell me that, I, myself and my community is dirty, immoral, obscene, and indecent.”

Scotti posted her thoughts in a video on social media Thursday night. (Madeline Scotti on Instagram: “Please share this with anyone who will listen. Our fight is far from over and my god, this is so much larger than a play. (Please feel free…”)

Indecent is a play by Paula Vogel. It recounts a controversial, theatrical production, God of Vengeance. The 1923 play resulted in the arrest and conviction of the cast and producer on obscenity charges. The original play detailed the love affair between a female prostitute and the daughter of a brother’s owner, according to a synopsis of the play.

Each student had to get parent permission to participate in the production.

Read: FL Dept. of Education cites DCPS for compliance concerns

Action News Jax reporter, Meghan Moriarty, asked if this is tied to the recent parental rights in education act, also know by critics as the ‘don’t say gay’ law.

A spokesperson sent us this statement in response: “‘Indecent’ contains adult sexual dialog that is inappropriate for student cast members and student audiences. It’s that simple. The decision has no relevance to any legislation but is rather a function of our responsibilities to ensure students engage in educational activities appropriate for their age.”

“My senior year at DA [Douglas Anderson], I had a similar situation,” Seth Langner said. “That’s partly why I feel so strongly about this.”

Seth Langner graduated in 1991. He said he produced a play for his senior project, Indian Wants the Bronx. It was almost cancelled for displaying racism, misogyny, and violence.

Watch: DCPS cuts ties with JASMYN

“They wanted to cancel it. We came to a compromise. Which after each show, we could have a Q and A with community leaders,” Langner said.

As a father who plans to send his daughter to the performing arts school, he hopes the district can come to a compromise with the students.

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“I don’t want my daughter attending a school-- and she’s very likely gonna go DA-- where she’ll be told ‘hey you don’t count,’” Langner said.