The Indigo Girls keep singing in the midst of yet another cancellation of one of their high school performances. What began as a generous gesture to bring art into high schools has turned into an unfortunate lesson in intolerance and homophobia. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has been in ongoing contact with the Indigo Girls and activists in Columbia, South Carolina during the course of this week long drama (a statement from Indigo Girl Amy Ray is attached).
"We are supporting the Indigo Girls as they battle ignorance and intolerance, and we remain hopeful that the administrators responsible for the cancellation of these shows will engage in sincere dialogue with Amy and Emily and their local gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities," stated Task Force executive director Kerry Lobel. "We know from Amy and Emily that they are disappointed in the actions of these officials. They also understand that this situation presents them with a unique opportunity to educate students, teachers, and parents about the vast limitations of homophobia," added Lobel.
Recently in South Carolina, Irmo High School Principal Gerald Witt canceled a performance by the duo scheduled, saying through a spokesperson it was because Saliers and Ray are lesbians. The next day, the principal of Germantown High School in Tennessee called off a scheduled performance, claiming it was because of profanity in their songs' lyrics. And Tuesday, officials at another Tennessee High School nixed a show that was slated for yesterday. In the face of these insults, the Grammy Award winning duo is going on with the show.
"We're very concerned for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students of these high schools. We already know that sexual minority youth face more violence and harassment than non-gay youth, now, thanks to the actions of their principals, they may have more to look forward to," said Lobel. "It's unconscionable that these administrators are more concerned with appeasing a few intolerant parents than with the health and safety of their students," she added. The Indigo Girls are deeply committed to social justice issues and actively support a number of causes. Later this year they will be performing a benefit show for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "We are grateful for Amy and Emily's leadership and courage," said Lobel. "They are exceptional role models for all students," she added.
STATEMENT FROM AMY RAY OF THE INDIGO GIRLS:
The idea of a high school tour came about after Emily and I were judges In a student lyric writing contest sponsored by scholastic magazine. The Words we read begged for and exalted in the chance to be expressed. The Broad range of topics included: political activism, love, sonnets, sexual Abuse and alienation. We were struck by the students' energy and Willingness to engage in and question life. The intent of this tour was Apolitical. After carefully reading and approving our lyrical content 6 High schools agreed to host a free show which included a question and Answer session. The expenses were to be covered by the indigo girls. We Have had 3 shows canceled, citing reasons such as profanity and most Importantly sexual preference. The profanity issue is an obvious red Herring - the irony being that we have more often been accused of being Too spiritual and "clean." A minority composed of homophobic narrow Minded parents and weak kneed principals and schools boards have Successfully enforced a policy of hate. Our public schools should be a Safe environment for an open exchange of ideas and a chance to explore One's own individuality.
The impossibility and hypocrisy of a situation where kids are expected to Be honest but are judged and alienated from their community because of it Should not escape us. In response to these circumstances we are playing Alternate shows - alcohol free, all ages, after school. Thanks to the Kids who are standing by us.
Amy Ray - Indigo Girls