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Herbst Weighs in On 'Rent'

The following comes from First Selectman Tim Herbst:

Over the past week, I have heard from many members of the community concerning the production of Rent: The School Edition. I have heard compelling and passionate arguments from people on both sides of this issue. I have chosen to carefully weigh all factors before offering public comment.

I felt it important to weigh in on this issue because I do not want this decision by our school administrators to become a bigger issue for the wrong reasons. As First Selectman of the Town of Trumbull, my job is to hear what all parties are saying in an attempt to find common ground. Whether our community proceeds with this production should not be a battle of wills. This should be about offering a positive resolution going forward.

I have the highest personal and professional respect for Marc Guarino, Principal of Trumbull High School.  In the short time I have known Marc, I have come to respect him as an educator who places the well-being of children as his highest priority. I agree with Mr. Guarino that decisions like this one should not be made in isolation.  As principal of THS, he should have been consulted before a decision was made. There should be communication and collaboration. The presentation of RENT should be about providing for a dialogue rather than a speech. With proper collaboration execution, RENT should be an educational opportunity that teaches our students and our community about acceptance and responsibility.  It should also teach our children about tolerance at the same time we teach ourselves to better communicate.

I believe there is a positive alternative that addresses Mr. Guarino's valid concerns while at the same time allowing RENT to proceed. Every summer, the Trumbull Youth Association (TYA) offers a summer musical for the community. Many of the Trumbull High School students who participate in our high school theater program are also members of TYA.  Proceeding with this musical in the summer through TYA offers enough time to address the very valid points offered by Mr. Guarino.  It will also allow graduating Trumbull High School seniors the opportunity to perform in this musical before they leave for college. Finally this action will embrace the concept of collaboration, communication and compromise at the same time we try to teach our students the fundamental principles of acceptance, responsibility and tolerance.

It is my sincere hope that this recommendation will establish a dialogue and a workable solution that all of us as Trumbullites can respect.

MAC December 07, 2013 at 11:35 PM
“Same-sex Domestic Violence Epidemic is Silent”………until people like Samuel See, Yale asst. professor, married to his husband only since May, are arrested for domestic violence and resisting the police--and ends up in the news, dying in a tragic way................ BDM, sorry that Patch does not allow paragraphing, or maybe you just "choose" to not see the "links" posted within my posts?......... At any rate, it is quite obvious that you either did not read my entire posts, or simply choose to deny the factual information contained therein which contradicts/refutes your bias/opinions which seem to blissfully aver that there are no important health and abuse risk differences between same-sex and normal, monogamous heterosexual relationships. Incidentally, it is proven fact that only a small minority of MSM relationships are monogamous! Most deliberately include acceptance of promiscuity from the outset!................................................... Here are the LINKS, again, which I posted before:...................... http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/gender/msm/facts/index.html.......... ............................................................................................ http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/11/a-same-sex-domestic-violence-epidemic-is-silent/281131/
MAC December 07, 2013 at 11:57 PM
And Benjamin, I don't care what adults do, as long as they are not telling me what I must believe and what churches must allow; demanding changes in the laws (beyond non-discrimination in housing and employment) to NORMALIZE, supposedly, homosexual relations; and teaching kids in school (as young as 5 and 6) that marrying a person of the same gender (or having sex with such) is just as normal and 'healthy' as heterosexual relationships and traditional marriage........................................ In short, I'm not against their "freedom" to make their own choices and live as they wish. Just don't tell me, and be so self obsessed/focused on your "identity" that you introduce yourself like "Hi, I'm McGreavy, and I'm a 'gay' American."...................... That kind of self-absorption is what "makes me want to vomit"--that and those who are engaged in trying to convince young, vulnerable and perhaps confused teens and adolescents that they are homosexual, and that homosexuality does not have serious negative/even tragic consequences!!
D V December 08, 2013 at 08:48 AM
Since we're already so far off-topic, I feel at liberty to interject some cherry-picked facts of my own. From the CDC report (ibid.): the lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner is 43.8% for lesbians and 35.0% for heterosexual women (not exactly parity, but close) and 26.0% for gay men and 29.0% for heterosexual men (well, whaddaya know and whoda thunk?). .... It should, but lamentably doesn't for some, go without saying that although most HIV+ men are gay, most gay men are not HIV+. Promiscuity among gay men is a significant contributor to that condition. Now this is only conjecture, but perhaps not only permitting, but encouraging lifetime, committed relationships (some dare call it marriage) among gay men would have a salutary effect. ... Lastly, the prevalence of HIV among African American men is also disproportionately high. So guys, if you're going to choose to self-identify as black, then you'd better know the risks.
Pam Georgas December 08, 2013 at 09:01 AM
Well, if the goal of the students was to initiate discussion on these issues in our community, they have succeeded! This type of discussion doesn't need much planning to make it go viral in a passionate community...
Jim Flynn December 08, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Can we get back to there original subject and not let MAC take us far afield from the relevant subject matter; the performance of RENT by THS
Faith Wollner December 08, 2013 at 12:27 PM
Let us not forget who the innocents are in this THS students who's hands are tied by ignorance and narrow minds
dave wilsoon December 08, 2013 at 12:29 PM
TYA IS A CYA proposal- the heart of the matter is we hired a guy who believes in censorship, homophobia and apparently believes he knowS than THE citizens that pay him. He has also shown disloyalty to his teachers by throwing them under the bus. NICE MOVE NEW GUY. Can't wait to see how long this joker lasts
Tony December 08, 2013 at 02:09 PM
MAC, I suggest you read the following article on HIV/AIDS and how it relates to the Senior population. Your ignorance can be hazardous to your own health: http://www.agingresearch.org/content/article/detail/2870
A.Hale December 08, 2013 at 03:24 PM
Well, reading Herbst comments - what a great "song & dance" reply. He should consider being part of the cast. Spoken like a true politician - plenty of words - no contents - said nothing. Well done .....more BS
faith wollner December 08, 2013 at 05:28 PM
I agree with you A. Hale Herbst should audition for a production. Typical politics. This is such a shame, innocent children who only wanted to do something, but on a production and are being held back by ignorance.
MAC December 09, 2013 at 12:09 AM
I knew nothing about this issue until reading about it on Patch, and have spoken to NO ONE in town gov't. or associated with the school or board about it--so you IGNORANT people who accuse me of "pressuring" the principal or others are talking through your hats!..................................................................................... People like DV, Joan and others who make ad hominem attacks upon me because they don't like my views, or my exercising my right to express them, are the "intolerant" and "boorish" ones--following the Alinskyite tactics of radical homosexual activists and other Leftists who cannot win arguments with logic and facts!...... Faith, your description of "innocent children" wanting to put on this musical (about an erotic dancer, a "trans" woman, and a homosexual man all with HIV/AIDS; plus drugs, profanity and other vile language even in the songs) is pretty ridiculous!........... You and others are certainly eager to see any such "innocence" blasted to smithereens with this play about some of the most sordid and destructive influences in our current society............... So much for any hope of Art and Theater uplifting or inspiring the audience or participants, let alone entertaining.
MAC December 09, 2013 at 12:42 AM
"As 'Rent' exits stage left, and as newer fads such as American Idol or 'High School Musical' take center stage, it will do fans good to remember that popularity does not measure quality," wrote a theater grad of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Kristin Baklicki wrote this five years ago, as "Rent" was closing on Broadway.............................................................................. She explained that she WANTED to like the show, but just couldn't. Some of her other comments in the below article: "'Rent' may have been a sign of the times when it opened in 1996, but after a decade, it is showing its age.......................... "Yes, it redefined traditional musical theater style, but whether this musicality is good can be contested. It is less rock musical and more screaming musical. Each song involves one dramatic tone: high-octane............................................................... "As a classically trained singer, I find the music painful. I doubt many loyal followers of 'Rent' are aware the show had a reputation for permanently damaging vocal chords.".................... "Such shows sacrifice emotional nuance for an adrenaline rush. There is little acting and a great deal of showcasing."................. ..."I still find some plot points, such as the transvestite's death and the resurrection of the heroine, a bit trite.......................... "What tips my scale of aversion, however, is the near-religious devotion of some of the show's admirers."................................. http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2008/0905/p09s03-coop.html
D V December 09, 2013 at 08:24 AM
MAC, as distasteful as it is for me to address you directly, I will offer this: a "boor" is someone who doesn't have the good sense to know when to be embarrassed and when to shut up. Take the hint. I'm not going to try to persuade you, and here's why. It's not just because you're not susceptible to reason. It's just unnecessary. I'm sure you've read "the lion shall lie down with the lamb, and a little child shall lead them." The children, the students of THS and their contemporaries - they will be the ones to supplant, if only by attrition, the reactionaries and bigots like you first, then their dupes like Guarino and then the fence-sitters in their turn. We see it right in front of us! The kids, the ones who'll be in charge - they get it already. This whole fiasco proves it. Our kids' ears and minds are already attuned to the harmony of the inevitable outcome. So, buh-bye, MAC. Our grandchildren will be reading about the world you tried, but failed, to make in the footnotes of their history books. Which makes you pretty much irrelevant right about ... now.
faith wollner December 09, 2013 at 09:18 AM
It is said that if you give a person enough rope they will hang themselves. Well, MAC you have done more and showed your intelligence!. Never mind a show "showing it's age" Our children are being tied by bigoted thinking, archaic thoughts and adults who are so full of fear it breeds ignorance. Our children are smart intelligent and wise beyond their years and should be treated with the respect they deserve. Shame on the adults in this matter who can not look beyond their own noses, walking about with blinders on.
trumbullguy December 09, 2013 at 09:30 AM
What exactly did we want Herbst to do? override the schools and abuse his power? His statement I believe was just fine.
A.Hale December 09, 2013 at 10:11 AM
to all - this person Mac - simply likes himself talk. wants to be on the soapbox. the more we respond the more he'll enjoy it. it's his/her day in the limelight. kind of comical.
CommonSense December 09, 2013 at 11:43 AM
This conversation on 'RENT' is simply "low rent". The posters on this Topic seem to always use the Over-Politicized-Words of Homophob/Racist/Ignorant/Bigoted/Heterosexual....Bullying and Name Calling to make a point. If parents want to have their 'children' be worldly to the subjects of Aids/HIV/Homophobia/Heroine/Life Style Changes.....Do you think a 'musical' with a message is going to do it? Bring them to the Hospitals/Out Clinics/Shelters/Church Missions/Out Reach Programs. You don't have to travel far to get the full experience, of course, you would be bringing your children. When 'real life' meets you at the door.....You won't be putting these life situations to a musical!!!! Of course Educating and Exposing People to alternative Life-Styles to an 'open minded' and 'sophisticated' public is a good thing......But a Musical to make your point seems to be Off-Point!
Thomas Tesoro December 09, 2013 at 12:14 PM
Out Town has been lambasted across the nation for weeks it seems and where has our First Selectman been? Now he come out with a suggestion that does not work. IMHO, had a Democratic BOE been in place you can be assured that our FS would have been very free with his criticism. Our Town is not Homophobic racist etc and that should have been his theme, defend our Community. The new BOE should have stepped up but did not. Sad
Kristy Ludlam Waizenegger December 09, 2013 at 12:40 PM
I'm going to go out on a limb here. This is a particularly inflammatory thread and of about 15 users, at least 10 are posting here anonymously. I implore those of you posting under your real names to please not engage in debate with anonymous users. Let's work towards getting to a place where we are truly civil and that starts with discussing topics only with real people who are willing to be fully accountable for their comments. Thanks for listening!
Vito Moscato December 09, 2013 at 12:59 PM
I think the words are more important that the name attached.
Mama of 3 December 09, 2013 at 01:05 PM
MAC ~ I really hope you realized by now that your statements are not correct. Not only Homosexuals or Drug Users but “Straight People” can be exposed to HIV/Aids. I realize that you are thinking of the education you may have received back in the 80’s on this subject but we know so much more now in the 21st Century. When you find out that some of your close friends or people you like are homosexuals I wonder if you will change your opinion on this subject or on your friendship. Now onto the original subject of RENT: My solution is very simple, just don’t by a ticket, don’t open the theater doors, and don’t come inside. This way the musical will have zero effect on your life. Solved. You may now go onto educating yourself in the facts of homosexuality, HIV/Aids, and such. One more thing; For those of you who this homosexuality is a choice. I have a question for you, since gays have a choice to be straight or gay when did you chose to be straight? Now I have a challenge for you, chose to be gay for one week. Can you? I didn’t think so.
Pam Georgas December 09, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Art has always been a way to communicate a message. Is it the only way? of course not, but it is often an effective way to get people to listen, think, and start dialogue on issues they would normally not.
MAC December 09, 2013 at 05:12 PM
How about the rights and free speech of Christian “children" at THS who disagree with the homosexual propaganda spouted rampantly in theater and on tv every night?.................... Perhaps Principal Guarino legitimately has concerns like these: “The squashing of dissenting views on homosexuality in the classroom has been going on for decades now. In 1991, a student at the University of Michigan announced his intention to establish a counseling program to help homosexuals leave their lifestyle. He was dragged before a panel of university administrators, unanimously found guilty of ‘sexual harassment,’ and was thrown out of the university.[5] In 2000, the Student Judiciary of Tufts University voted officially to ‘derecognize’ the Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF) club for taking into account, for purposes of selecting leaders, the beliefs of a member whose views of Scripture and homosexuality were opposed to their own.[6] The TCF was stripped of funding, not permitted to use the Tufts name, not permitted to meet in any room that required a reservation, and not allowed to advertise or announce any of their events or meetings. In 2011, a Fort Worth, Texas high school student was suspended from school for reportedly saying, ‘I’m a Christian, and I don’t think being gay is right,’ during a class discussion.[7] And teachers don’t have it any easier. In 2010 a professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign was accused of ‘hate speech’ and relieved of his teaching duties for teaching Catholic doctrine on homosexuality in his Introduction to Catholicism class.[8]........................................................................................ “The six ways homosexual activists manipulate public opinion” BY BRIAN CLOWES.................................................................. http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/the-six-ways-homosexual-activists-manipulate-public-opinion
raven3 December 09, 2013 at 07:32 PM
“Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group.” ― Coretta Scott King
D V December 09, 2013 at 09:59 PM
K.L. Waizenegger says "this is a particularly inflammatory thread" and entreats posters to engage only with non-anonymous posters. I disagree with her, but the accountability mention got me thinking. Would I be saying the same things under my own name? So I re-read my posts, and except for the "craven" and "cowardice," which I hereby freely admit were waaay too strong and words I wouldn't dare utter in someone's face, I stand behind what I wrote. I also stand behind my decision to use a pseudonym. I don't need some whackjob calling me at three in the morning asking me to roll over and wake up Saul Alinsky. But thanks, Kristy, for the integrity check.
Quaestor December 10, 2013 at 01:13 AM
I am astounded at the level of arrogance, intolerance, close-mindedness, and name calling in some of these posts. And I'm NOT talking about MAC. The taunts hurled at MAC show exactly why it was a very good idea to drop the musical, Rent. Heaven help any student at Trumbull High who would DARE to disagree with progressive orthodoxy regarding the homosexual lifestyle. They would be subject to taunts even more abusive than those hurled at MAC. I have read and re-read MAC's posts and find nothing that is homophobic, ignorant, bigoted, or hateful, as some of you claim. Rather, I see references to research and rational analysis supporting MAC's position. Some of you may not like MAC's style, but that is no excuse for name calling or imputing bad motives. Really, people! Of course, I now fully expect the same name calling to be directed at me too. Name calling is, after all, the last bastion of those who cannot endure reasoned disagreement. And regarding the argument above that we live in a liberal area, that the fight is over, and that MAC should just give up . . . . In light of the overwhelming victory of Trumbull Republican candidates, would you be willing to just give up? No, I didn't think so.
Thomas Tesoro December 10, 2013 at 10:50 AM
By the way, do we still have a Board of Education? Shouldn't they be the ones resolving this matter?
enness December 13, 2013 at 12:17 AM
I don't have the patience to do more than skim 70+ comments, but I think I have enough coal for everyone 's stocking. - 1) The principal has only been there for five months -- plus they were up for re-accreditation in October, so I'm sure this was not exactly the first thing on his mind. "New guys" can't just learn things by osmosis -- it takes time and communication. I'm not really sympathetic to complaints that the teacher has never had to do XYZ before. Did nobody think there would be any changes with a change of leadership? - 2) Someone who actually worked with this principal at his previous job reports that he was a "vocal" supporter of both the arts and GSAs. This got buried among hundreds of comments on the Trumbull for Rent Facebook page. There is clearly more going on here than meets the eye. Call off the circular firing squad; it makes much of the outrage over bullying look incredibly hypocritical. - 3) Benjamin: I am also a "starving artist." Do I really need to explain the mechanics of how your composing career differs from an STD? Yes, I am content with your trying, but say I gave you my opinion that it was a bad idea -- or, if I knew you and your work personally and tried to dissuade you because I didn't think you have the talent or drive -- how defensive would you get? - 4) As I have said before and will say again, when there are minors involved, censorship is what ANY responsible adult does; the questions are only what, when, how. When we are talking about adults, then I will suffer to entertain your pretentious nonsense about censorship. - 5) On a related note: they're either "innocent children" or they are "wise beyond their years" (basically, short adults). One argument takes the other off the table; I don't want to hear both from the same person. - 6) This is, from what I can tell, an edited version of Rent with much of the potentially offensive stuff removed (in other words, it's already been censored, and the students apparently accepted that situation). Nevertheless, I am sure it is still not a show for all ages. Additionally, there are people who claim they have shown the full version to their young kids already. These people, IMHO, are nuts. - 7) Musicals, even when they deal with real issues, have a long history of being escapist fantasy entertainment (seriously, when was the last time your street gang broke into a spontaneous song-and-dance number?). - 8) To state with seriousness that because I have never bought a ticket to see the musical Rent, it has had no impact on my life or the world I live in is laughable beyond belief. - 9) I don't use my full, real name much on the internet for good reasons. The opinions are the same. Deal. The opinions are also the same regardless of who I am friends with, and I run in circles that are much more liberal than I am. If they're really friends, they already know how I feel and will respect me for not changing everything to kiss up to them. - 10) 'I'm sure you've read "the lion shall lie down with the lamb, and a little child shall lead them."' I think it was DV who said this -- whoever it was, (s)he needs to go back and read the whole passage again. If you think it was meant to describe a scenario that would probably be ever reality on this planet during our lifetime...LOL, you're going to be very disappointed. Context, context, CONTEXT. Someone here evidently feels my pain: http://theologicallyspeaking.com/2010/08/26/please-stop-saying-and-a-little-child-shall-lead-them/ - Is that enough or should I open another can?
enness December 13, 2013 at 12:30 AM
We can haz paragraphs? Pleez?
enness December 13, 2013 at 12:59 AM
One last thing: the big victory that some of you are crowing about was not won fair and square, because it was never put to a vote, and you know it. If you think it's a mere formality, I invite you to try.

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