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Corona Del Mar High School officials' initial decision to cancel the student production of Rent and their subsequent failure to address a growing atmosphere of intolerance at the school created "a breeding ground for homophobic attitudes" that is bringing the Rev. Fred Phelps' "God Hates Fags" group to campus today, says American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California attorney Lori Rifkin.
After first being allowed, then being canceled, then being allowed again, a tamer high school version of the hit Broadway musical that includes gay characters and themes opens tonight at CdM High. But the controversy led to an escalation of homophobia and hate crimes on campus, according to an ACLU suit filed last month.
"Despite numerous opportunities to address an atmosphere openly hostile to female, lesbian,
bisexual, gay and transgender students, the district has done nothing that we are aware of to
curb intolerance," Rifkin says in a statement sent to the media. "There has not been a single word condemning bullying or homophobic behavior. No school assembly has been held to address harassment. School officials released a public statement about the play recently that offers nominal support for the drama department and student cast members, but distances district and school administrators from the production and emphasizes that it is 'not a school sanctioned event' and that it contains 'adult content.'
"This tepid and inaccurate statement, on the eve of a protest by Fred Phelps‟ vitriolic hate group that could eclipse the musical production and leave cast members feeling vulnerable and scared on stage, is simply inadequate and unacceptable," Rifkin said.