Spring Branch ISD field trip to play canceled due to 'age-appropriateness of the performance'

Lileana Pearson Image
Thursday, April 27, 2023
SBISD field trip to play canceled after parent's concerned about drag
Spring Branch ISD is canceling a school trip to see "James and the Giant Peach" over "age-appropriateness of the performance."

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Parents are divided after they were notified about the cancelation of an upcoming field trip to see a performance of "James and the Giant Peach."

The school said it was due to the age-appropriateness of the performance.

Main Street Theaters' performance of "James and the Giant Peach" is marketed for those in first grade and up. Based on the children's book of the same name, it's a story about a boy who goes to live with less-than-loving relatives.

"It's 'James and the Giant Peach.' It's full of wonder and curiosity," the theater's marketing director, Shannon Emerick, said.

Spring Branch ISD was supposed to go on a field trip to see the performance, but this week, parents were told the field trip was canceled and weren't told why.

"Initially, I was not. The general email that went out to parents was, 'We are not going to be able to participate in this. We are going to do something else,'" Spring Branch parent Cheri Thomas said.

Thomas told ABC13 this may have started during the public comment portion of a recent school board meeting. She said a parent shared her concern about the actors playing multiple roles that were both male and female, saying it's drag.

Thomas said it's not drag, and if it were, she wouldn't find it a big deal.

"Drag is not a big deal. It's theater. It's art. It's been part of our culture for years," Thomas said.

Emerick also said this is not drag.

"Drag is a different art form. There is a whole art form that is drag," Emerick said, adding that the theater has thousands of years of history of casting this way as well. "The amazing thing is the kids just believe the story. They're not interested in any agendas or anything else anyone thinks is going on."

Thomas said this should not be the school or community's focus in the first place.

"I don't think it's a big deal. I think it's overblown, a manufactured crisis," Thomas said.

She feels parents should be the ones to decide if their kids get to go, not the school district.

ABC13 reached out to SBISD about the decision to cancel the trip. The district responded with the following statement:

"Spring Branch ISD's pending field trips to the Main Street Theater performance of James and the Giant Peach are being canceled due to concerns raised about the age-appropriateness of the performance."

We did reach out to Spring Branch ISD parents, who were happy the field trip was no longer going to happen, but none of them chose to comment.

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