Scroll To Top
News

Texas High School Says Transgender Boy Can't Play Male Role in 'Oklahoma!'

Max Hightower Oklahoma Lead Texas High School
Image: YouTube @KXII-TV News 12 | Texoma

Student Max Hightower was told students had to be cast according to the gender they were assigned at birth. “I want every kid to be recognized and noticed and allowed to be themselves,” he said.

trudestress

Sherman High School in Texas is not OK with a transgender boy playing a male role in Oklahoma!

Max Hightower, a senior, was cast in the role about two weeks ago, TV station KXII reports. The station didn't name the character, but it was reported later that Hightower was cast as Persian peddler Ali Hakim in the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.

A few days later, however, Hightower was told he couldn’t play the role. He said the principal told him that for this production, “actors and actresses could only play a role that was the same gender they were assigned at birth.” The school’s website identifies the principal as Scott Johnston.

Hightower, who was elated when he was cast, said he was “devastated” when the role was taken away from him, according to KXII. He has played female characters in previous shows, but the staffers who run the theater productions had no problem with appearing as male, he and his father said.

“All kinds of actors have played all kinds of parts,” Hightower said. “I mean, I grew up watching Mrs. Doubtfire.

He is determined to be reinstated, he said. “I want every kid to be recognized and noticed and allowed to be themselves,” he told the station.

“I expected him to be crying, but no, Max is a fighter,” said his father, Philip Hightower.

The Sherman Independent School District released a statement saying, “There is no policy on how students are assigned to roles. As it relates to this particular production, the sex of the role as identified in the script will be used when casting. Because the nature and subject matter of productions vary, the District is not inclined to apply this criteria to all future productions.”

The statement also said the production is under review and would be postponed.

“It was brought to the District’s attention that the current production contained mature adult themes, profane language, and sexual content,” the statement noted. “Unfortunately, all aspects of the production need to be reviewed, including content, stage production/props, and casting to ensure that the production is appropriate for the high school stage.”

For the record, Oklahoma! is considered a classic of American musical theater. It was first produced on Broadway in 1943 and has been revived several times, most recently in 2019, and made into a film. It has received countless awards and is a staple of school theater departments and community theater troupes.

The Sherman High School production was originally scheduled for December 8-10. The new dates will likely be sometime after January 15, the statement said.

trudestress
Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.