Christian groups oppose staging of The Laramie Project at University of Maryland

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com August 26 2002 11:00 PM ET

A proposed production of The Laramie Project at the University of Maryland--and a visit by the show's out author, Mois├ęs Kaufman--is under fire from conservative groups, reports the Baltimore Sun. Leaders of conservative Christian organizations have threatened to sue the university to block the distribution of 10,000 copies of the play to all freshmen and to other students living on campus. "Another major university is forcing students to view a controversial issue from a very slanted position," says the Virginia-based Family Policy Network on its Web site. "This time the issue is homosexuality, and the school is using a brutal crime as a Trojan horse."

Jeffrey LaHost, managing director of Kaufman's Tectonic Theatre Project, responded to the controversy, noting, "What people don't get is that this is not a play about Matthew Shepard. Instead, our intention was to portray the variety of points of view that we observed in Laramie. This play is about the townspeople dealing with the crime during the year after it happened and with the way they were portrayed in the media. This is a story about a town in trauma." LaHost also said that Kaufman and other members of the troupe were disturbed that some initial televised accounts of the murder included commentary from right-wing groups. "I can't think of any other minority group where it's still hotly contested whether or not it's OK to kill them. When a black person is murdered, no one thinks they have to get an opposing point of view from the Ku Klux Klan."