Anti-Bullying Musical in Gettysburg

The Victim, a musical on bullying, becomes an agent of change in Gettysburg.

The Victim, a moving musical centered on school-based bullying, premiered last weekend in Gettysburg. Hundreds of members of the local community filled the Gettysburg Community Theater (GCT) with two completely sold out shows. The musical was conceived, written, and co-directed by Hanover High School student Zachary David Terrazas. The show featured an all youth cast who delivered commanding performances exploring social violence, relational aggression, and domestic abuse.

PSEC, Pennsylvania’s statewide LGBTQ youth organization, happened to have our summer convention at Gettysburg College the same weekend of the show and we were able to send student representatives from across Pennsylvania to the closing night run. Local leaders from the Gettysburg community were throughout the audience, including Gettysburg College President Janet Morgan Riggs. With a strong musical score, Terrazas gives us a deeply personal story that shows bullying through the lens of a victim in which no one, not bully nor victim, is a winner.

The Victim not only reminds us of the perils of bullying; it also reminds us of the resilience and talent of Pennsylvania high school students and the importance of listening to their voice. The production—which has been featured on national news—was brought to life with a spirited, heartfelt performance through the GCT. The theater’s Executive and Artistic Director, Chad-Alan Carr, was kind enough to treat PSEC leaders to meet the full cast backstage, and we were also able to talk to Zachary David Terrazas. The cast members thanked PSEC for working on safe schools advocacy. The performing arts and activism have long been intertwined. For example, in classical music, prominent gay composers whose music has inspired social change with political themes include Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein. We are proud to see this tradition continue right here in Pennsylvania with The Victim, a work with huge potential to shape the culture of the communities where it is presented.

The Victim in the News:
Hanover student writes musical about bullying July 27, 2012 (The Evening Sun)

York County teen writes, directs musical about bullying August 4, 2012 (York Daily Record)
Teen’s bullying musical to premiere in Gettysburg August 5, 2012 (AP)

This post was written by Ben Safran, Haverford College ’13.

GSA given greenlight in Central PA


ENOLA, PA— A GSA at East Pennsboro Area High School was approved in a unanimous  vote (7-0) this evening by their local school board. Earlier this month, the East Pennsboro Area School District Board of Directors voted down (4-4) the formation of a GSA at EPA HS.

Realizing what they had done, and following a media firestorm, it was predicted that at the meeting tonight they would approve the formation of the student group.

East Pennsboro Area School District is located on the West Shore region in Central Pennsylvania – directly across the river from our capital city of Harrisburg. East Pennsboro Area High School LGBTQ and ally students have had  an informal group for several years.

PSEC Co-Founder Jason Fluke,  who is a student at Penn State – Harrisburg and recent graduate of East Pennsboro Area School District, was present at the vote this evening with other  supporters from the community. Fluke said “this is a small victory for the queer community, but a larger victory for any individual who does not fit the caucasian, heterosexual norm.”

Today, the Patriot-News published an incredibly supportive editorial in favor of the GSA’s establishment:
Gay Alliance – East Pennsboro should get it right this time.

There was minimal discussion by the Board members before the final vote. They had a greatly positive dialogue  this evening in contrast to just a few weeks before.

Following the meeting, Fluke said “with the public establishment of Coexist, hopefully now the students will feel safe and empowered to find their voices.”

We couldn’t agree more.

The East Pennsboro Area School District Board of Directors before the final vote to approve the GSA.