Community Outrage Sparks Reversal of Keller ISD’s Cancellation of The Laramie Project  

Student speaking out against the cancellation of the production.

After weeks of student, parent, and community pushback, Timber Creek High School’s student performance of The Laramie Project will go on in Keller ISD. The decision, announced via email on Wednesday, was a swift reversal of the district’s decision in February to cancel the production, which garnered national media attention and outrage. 

The Laramie Project, written by playwright Moisés Kaufman, centers on the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming. The district justified its initial decision to cancel the student production by saying: “The decision to move forward with another production at Timber Creek High School was based on the desire to provide a performance like the ones that have created much excitement from the community, like this year’s Keller ISD musical productions of Mary Poppins and White Christmas. The decision was a collaborative one made by many stakeholders. Students will still be studying, discussing, and analyzing The Laramie Project script at school.” 

Coming as it did on the heels of another controversial decision, the cancellation of the play attracted a huge amount of attention to Keller ISD. On Feb. 9, a Keller ISD school board trustee visited the district’s Central High School with an “evangelical film crew,” who filmed and interviewed students without parental consent

Taken together, these two controversies have once again placed Keller ISD at the center of culture-war discussions and heightened concerns about inclusive learning environments for the district’s students. The district’s initial decision to cancel the production earned condemnation from LGBTQ+ activists, community members, and students. Kaufman, The Laramie Project playwright, said the district’s decision not only was homophobic but dangerous, as “it’s telling the LGBTQ students that their stories are unwelcome, that they should refrain from speaking their truth and that that community is not willing to listen.” 

After public outcry from dozens of community members, as well as a petition to reinstate the production, Keller ISD has reversed its decision and allowed Timber Creek High School to move forward with its production.  

Safeguarding LGBTQ+ students’ rights while fostering inclusivity in our public schools is an important priority for every educator and for our union. In the interest of making sure all students, regardless of how they identify, feel welcome in Texas public schools, we want to highlight the extensive resources available to students, parents, and teachers from The Matthew Shepard Foundation.