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Monday, 29 November, 1999, 14:44 GMT
Musical cancelled in racism complaint
Amherst parents Parents say the cancellation limits free speech

A school production of West Side Story has been cancelled in the United States after complaints from parents and students about the musical's depiction of Puerto Ricans.

The proposed show was to have been performed at the Amherst Regional High School, in Amherst in Massachusetts, but parents and students had submitted a petition calling for its cancellation.

Students and their parents had complained that the musical's presentation of street gangs was a negative stereotyping of the Puerto Rican community.

Stereotyping

"The Latinos are put down in the play and are strongly stereotyped,'' said Orlando Sola-Gomez, whose daughter attends the school.

But the decision not to perform the play has angered other parents, who held a protest meeting to call for its reinstatement.

"I admit there are problems. There's racism, but by not doing the play, it's not solving the problem," said a 17-year-old student at the meeting.

Also attending was Senator Stanley Rosenberg who claimed that the cancellation of the musical was an attack on the freedom of expression.

"I think that denying the community the opportunity to see the play is wrong. It's wrong in a democratic society. You shouldn't seek to silence different points of view and that's what's happening here," said Senator Rosenberg.

Instead of West Side Story, the school is putting on a Gershwin-based musical, Crazy for You.
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See also:
15 Nov 99 |  Education
Jackson steps up expulsions protest
25 Feb 99 |  Education
Blair backs lessons against racism
19 Feb 99 |  Education
Education system racist - Ouseley

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