One Chicago school is getting complaints from parents and the local community after it made eighth-graders prematurely leave a Holiday performance during their field trip.
According to Towleroad, Ohio’s Notre Dame Academy is in the midst of this controversy after school faculty and chaperones thought it unfit for students to be exposed to a same-sex couple. Every year, eighth-graders at the Catholic institution go on a field trip. This year, the school chose The House Theatre of Chicago’s performance of The Nutcracker. Unfortunately for the students, however, they never got to see the show.
As Carly McGoldrick, a former student who’s now an openly bisexual parent, professed to the world through Twitter, the chaperones removed students before the show could begin. The reason being, chaperones discovered that main character Clara’s parents were played by two men.
“The 8th graders at my catholic grade school take an annual trip to chicago around thanksgiving and usually get to see a musical or whatever…” wrote McGoldrick [sic]. “This year they went to see the nutcracker but clara’s parents were played by two men so chaperones made them all get up and LEAVE.”
She then added:
“I’ve been in contact with an audience member (not from NDA) who said the walk-out was disruptive and confusing,” McGoldrick added in a later tweet. “It happened about 5 minutes before the performance actually began, and i can only imagine how humiliated the students were. Waiting for NDA to refund the parents of their students for the cost of the tickets and to issue an apology for embarrassing them in front of an entire auditorium of people.”
After McGoldrick’s post started to gain traction, the president of Notre Dame Academy, Kim Grilliot, released an apology through social media. She wrote:
“From NDA President Kim Grilliot: We apologize for our decision for 8th graders leave to a performance of The Nutcracker before it began due to casting choices. The mistake is contrary to our inclusive spirit and reminds us our actions should affirm that we are all God’s children.”
From NDA President Kim Grilliot: We apologize for our decision for 8th graders leave to a performance of The Nutcracker before it began due to casting choices. The mistake is contrary to our inclusive spirit and reminds us our actions should affirm that we are all God's children.
— Notre Dame Academy (@NDA_eagles) November 26, 2019
“There simply just isn’t an adequate conversation at Notre Dame Academy about gender and sexuality issues,” said McGoldrick to the Toledo Blade. “It simply just doesn’t exist outside of theology classes and that simply is not enough. As someone heavily involved in student council — president of the executive student council her senior year — I felt like, ‘Oh God, I can’t share this. I don’t want the school to out me to my parents,’ which they’ve been known to do in the past, or, ‘I don’t want them to find out and make it awkward around my other friends or teachers. I spent so many of my formative years shaping and hiding my identity so as to not feel outcast by the school.”
Of course, one would wonder why McGoldrick would then send her own children to the Catholic institution. But perhaps, she truly believed that the school’s words of becoming an institution with an inclusive spirit. That “Spirit of Inclusion” mentality was adopted by the school in 2014 by the decision of the NDA Board of Trustees. The school itself explains this in further detail through a more elaborate statement posted on Facebook.
“We apologize for our decision for 8th graders leave to a performance of The Nutcracker before it began due to casting choices. The mistake is contrary to our inclusive spirit and reminds us our actions should affirm that we are all God’s children. To clarify what happened, the decision was made for the NDA eighth graders to leave a performance of The Nutcracker before it began because upon arrival they discovered that the producer had chosen to cast two men as the main character’s parents. However, the Spirit of Inclusion statement adopted by the NDA Board of Trustees in 2014 affirms that we in the Notre Dame Academy community welcome all into our Gospel community including but not limited to people of all colors, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender expression, abilities, economic classes and nationalities. We consider the decision to not attend the performance a mistake and sincerely apologize to anyone we offended. The action does not reflect NDA’s true values. Rest assured we will redouble our efforts to live up to our inclusion statement. Sometimes we teach our children as much from our mistakes as from our successes. We view this as a chance to teach our students the value of taking ownership of one’s mistakes and to reaffirm that our community is committed to inclusion.”
But what do the students think? In response to the incident, some students painted a rock on the school’s premises in rainbow colors. They also added the words “God Loves U” to expand on the supportive message.