Rent Dispute Resolved

PlayBlog   Rent Dispute Resolved
The harassment of a female actress who played the role of Mimi in a spring California high school production of the musical Rent has led to a legal settlement between the California ACLU and The Newport-Mesa Unified School District in Orange County.

As part of the settlement of the suit, which was filed on behalf of the targeted student, who has since graduated from Corona del Mar High School, the district must apologize to her and provide anti-discrimination counseling to students, faculty and administration, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times. Details of the settlement were released Sept. 9.

The lawsuit alleged that three student football players posted a Facebook video in which they threatened Ketchum with rape and murder and used slurs in reference to another student they thought was gay. This was happening as plans for the edited "School Edition" of Jonathan Larson's Rent were in the works. Ketchum played the HIV-positive exotic dancer Mimi in the high school staging of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about love and friendship — gay and straight — in the age of AIDS.

Ketchum's parents said the school district did little to punish the boys, the Times reported.

"No one else will have to go through what I went through," Ketchum, 17, told the L.A. Times. "I hope the students at Corona del Mar High School will learn from my experience that it's possible to stand up for what is right and prevail."

Ketchum is now a freshman studying theatre at Loyola Marymount University.

Apparently unrelated to the threats from the athletes, the school's plans for Rent were briefly delayed this past spring so the principal could review the material. It went on, playing to "packed houses," according to the Times, "while security roamed the halls" and a conservative group protested outside.

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