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London’s Catholic school board stands by decision not to fund play about gay prom date

Prom Queen: the musical, will premier at the Segal Centre.
The musical is based on the true story of Marc Hall, a gay Oshawa student who fought to bring his boyfriend to his high school prom in 2002, despite opposition from the local Catholic school board. Global News

The London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB) is refusing to back down from its decision not to fund Prom Queen: The Musicalthis year’s high school project at the Grand Theatre.

Last week, London’s Catholic and public boards had said they would break with tradition not provide money for the High School Project at the Grand Theatre. That decision sparked online outrage and led to a fundraising drive that collected $58,000 to cover the funding shortfall.

The boards’ reasoning behind the decision was that the subject matter of Prom Queen: The Musical, wasn’t appropriate for younger students.

READ MORE: Online fundraiser hits goal after London school boards cancel funding for high school musical

The musical is based on the true story of Marc Hall, a gay student in Oshawa who fought to bring his boyfriend to his high school prom in 2002, despite opposition from the local Catholic school board.

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The Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) decided at its meeting Tuesday that they would reinstate their portion of the funding for the annual production, admitting that the decision to pull the funding was a mistake.

The Catholic board, however, has not changed its stance.

An interview request to the Catholic board was denied, but the board’s spokesperson, Mark Adkinson, confirms they will not be reinstating the funding.

READ MORE: Public school board calls decision to pull ‘Prom Queen’ funding a mistake, reinstates $15K contribution

“The Grand Theatre provides valuable opportunities to students in our community and although we have chosen not to be a sponsor for this year’s production, we are pleased that more than enough funds have been raised to offset our sponsorship amount,” said Adkinson in an email to 980 CFPL.

“We give ALL students our unconditional care and support each and every day in our schools and classrooms.”

Atkinson says they respect the decision by the public board to reinstate the funding, but would not be joining them in doing so.

“The London District Catholic School Board has an excellent working relationship with the Thames Valley District School Board. Our work together is based on mutual respect, including the importance of making decisions independent of one another.”

The Grand Theatre released a statement Wednesday morning, thanking TVDSB for reinstating the funding.

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Prom Queen tells the story of young people standing up for each other, celebrating and respecting diversity, and making the world a better place. And we believe that’s what theatre should do; tell relevant stories with authentic voices.”

The Grand Theatre is hosting an official launch of Prom Queen: The Musical on Feb. 7.

The High School Project began in 1998 with a production of West Side Story. Since then, the Grand Theatre has put on 32 productions featuring high school students from the area.