Calif. students to defend 'Laramie' play

March 22, 2010 at 12:59 PM
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SAN MATEO, Calif., March 22 (UPI) -- High school students in San Mateo, Calif., say they are prepared to oppose a church's protest of their school's production of "The Laramie Project."

Hillsdale High School senior Meghan Souther said she is among a group of students ready to conduct a counter-protest in defense of the play, which focuses on Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming man who was fatally beaten in 1988 because he was gay, the San Mateo (Calif.) County Times said Sunday.

The school's plan to put on a Saturday production of the play prompted plans for a protest from the Westboro Baptist Church, based in Kansas.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of church founder Fred Phelps, said the protest was planned because the play teaches rebellion.

The County Times said Phelps's church has previously held anti-gay protests, including similar demonstrations against "Laramie" productions by other schools.

Hillsdale Theater Director Allison Gamlen said hundreds of individuals may come out to support the student rally in support of the play.

"This is a teachable moment about civil rights and human rights. We also want students to feel empowered," Gamlen offered.

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