Basu: Performance's message: 'Tolerance isn't enough' (DesMoinesRegister)
Since seeing "Rent" in his freshman year of high school, Kevin Brown, now a Roosevelt senior, longed to play Angel, the gentle African-American drag queen dying of AIDS. He got his chance last week, on the Roosevelt stage. Knowing how "immature teenage minds" work, he was prepared for some hooting and giggling when he appeared in heels and dresses and held hands with another guy. Not only wasn't there a single misplaced twitter from the packed auditorium, but the play got a standing ovation each of its three nights.
That an Iowa high school would even undertake a production involving cross dressing, homosexuality, drug addiction and AIDS marks a coming of age - both for the school and for the community. That it went off without protests or jeers is a testament to the educational efforts that have gone into waking Des Moines up in the last decade or so.
Just 13 years ago, Concerned Students of Des Moines surveyed metro high schools and found that the average student heard 25 anti-gay slurs a day - and 97 percent of the time, teachers didn't stop them. A year later, Shawn Beirman, who ran Youth Alliance, surveyed young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Iowans for a master's thesis, and 81 percent reported having been verbally harassed and another 39 percent physically assaulted; 57 percent had considered suicide the previous year and 27 percent had tried it. Bitter battles were waged over the inclusion of curricular materials about homosexuality that could help gay teens develop a better sense of self.
Complete article at DesMoines Register : http://bit.ly/9pVOTs