If you were the parent of a high school student and found out that your child was involved with a play at school that uses vulgar sexual expressions and portrays sex with a goat, would you be upset and concerned?
Some parents of Cactus Shadows High School in Carefree, Arizona are, but you may be surprised at the reaction they are receiving.
The play is The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? by Edward Albee. The main character, Martin, falls in love with a goat and has a sexual affair with it, which causes all kinds of problems for Martin’s wife and son. The play first appeared on Broadway in 2002 and opened in London in 2004. Not everything performed on Broadway or in London is morally worth seeing let alone being performed by teenagers in high school.
Ten parents contacted the high school and complained about sexually explicit content of the play. The school resource officer followed up on the complaint by interviewing some of the students. The drama teacher, Andrew Cupo was placed on paid administrative leave, which is the standard policy of the school district for any type of investigation.
In Cupo’s defense, it was reported that the head of the fine arts department told the local newspaper that Cupo had warned the students about the sexually explicit material and offered them the option of studying another script. However, the students decided to keep the Albee script anyway.
At the beginning of the semester, parents are asked to sign a syllabus that includes a statement advising them that students may be exposed to materials that differ from the beliefs of the students or parents. One parent, Guy McAtee said:
“Having signed an acknowledgement of the course curriculum is in no way authorization for material of this nature to be approved.”
At the school board meeting where parents convened, McAtee was about to read several of the sexually vulgar sections from the play, but before he did, he told the school board:
“I’m sure that since it’s appropriate material, that the language I’m about to use will be approved by the school board.”
However, some students and parents told the school board that they were upset and offended not by the play but by the complaining parents and school resource officer. One student told the board:
“ … We were asked what we thought of Mr. Cupo teaching bestiality. Ironic that they spoke to us of bestiality without the consent of our parents, the same act they condemn Mr. Cupo for.”
The parent of one of the girls in the play said:
“My daughter was not negatively impacted by the play but she was negatively impacted by being asked in the office if she acted out this play and things she never would have thought of.”
This made absolutely no sense to me. How can anyone not be offended by acting out something obscene and then turn around and claim to be offended when asked about it? However, I fault the teacher, Cupo for the entire incident. Knowing what the play contained, he had no business even considering it as appropriate for high school students. There are plenty of plays to choose from without having to stoop to such perverse material, especially knowing that many high school students are already being influenced by their raging hormones.
Debbi Burdick, Superintendent of the school district told the local newspaper that they are still investigating the matter and that pending their findings, Cupo could be cleared and returned to teaching, could receive a disciplinary letter or could face termination. Personally, I believe the teacher demonstrated a lack of discretion on his part to the extent that I would question his right to teach.