Florida school censors play about censorship over Jewish lesbians

Paula Vogel is a sort of icon of the modern American theatre, who first earned a Pulitzer Prize for her 1998 play How I Learned To Drive, a brilliant exploration of child sexual abuse. Her 2015 play Indecent, which was a hit both on and Off Broadway, was based on the real-life Broadway censorship of a play about Jewish prostitutes, written by a Yiddish playwright, which included the first known explicitly lesbian kiss in American theatre history.

The Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida had obtained the rights to the educational version of the Tony Award-winning Indecent, to be performed by the students. According to WJCT News, the school principal announced over email that Indecent would be replaced by a Chekhov play about suicide, saying:

Although students were required to provide parental consent to appear in the original selection, a closer review of the mature content of 'Indecent' led us to the conclusion that 'Seagull' is better suited for a school production.


'Indecent' contains adult sexual dialog that is inappropriate for student cast members and student audiences. It's that simple.

Despite its stated concerns about sexual content, the school district has insisted that this decision had nothing to do with Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill.

Vogel herself was not pleased to learn that her play about the dangers of censorship being weaponized against marginalized communities was censored as a weapon against marginalized communities:

As one of the students said in an Instagram post:

Indecent is a story about how detrimental censorship is, about how its damaging effects can ruin a nation and a community. I don't need to point out the irony. The one hundred year anniversary of Sholem Asch's God of Vengeance being shut down on Broadway is the same week our production of Indecent would have happened. One hundred years, and we are still fighting the same injustice that Sholem Asch and his company did.

Indecent is about the purity of love, the strength within a community and the shallowness of those who try to silence identities. Indecent is also a queer Jewish love story. They are trying to tell us this play is dirty, immoral, obscene, and, of course, indecent. And by that nature, they're trying to tell me that I, myself, and my community is dirty, immoral, obscene, and indecent.

Florida High School Cancels Production of Indecent; Students Say It's Because of 'Don't Say Gay' Laws [Meg Masseron / Playbill]

Duval Schools cancels high school play over sexual content [Brendan Rivers / WJCT News]