Catholic school apologises over Chicago’s Nutcracker walk-out

Catholic school apologises over Chicago’s Nutcracker walk-out December 23, 2019
Image via YouTube

NO secret was made of the fact that a version of The Nutcracker, staged in Chicago in November, featured a gay couple. Indeed, it was well publicised that the main parents of the main character, Clara, were in a same-sex relationship.

But a woman chaperoning a group of Catholic school pupils from the Notre Dame Academy in Toledo, Ohio, only learned of the fact when she read in the programme of Clara’s gay married parents. Jessica Beaverson immediately took fright and and escorted the students out of  The House Theatre.

News that students were told to leave the theatre broke when alum Carly McGoldrick wrote on Facebook:

The chaperone in question (Jessica Beaverson, the new Dean of Students) became concerned and contacted other members of the administration who were not on the trip (Sarah Cullum, the new Principal, and Andrea Zimmerman, Dean of Academics), who then encouraged her to escort the students from the performance, which they payed for. (Or rather, their parents paid for. The trip is not free.)

Other chaperones (as well as students) expressed their extreme reluctance to no avail, and the group of about 30 people marched out of the auditorium approximately 5 minutes before curtain. Obviously, this caused a massive disturbance and resulted in confusion throughout the theater (as well as a jarring clump of empty seats).

In a statement, the President of Notre Dame Academy in Ohio, Kim Grilliot, said the chaperones’ decision to remove students over the inclusion of gay characters was a mistake. Grilliot wrote on Facebook:

We apologize for our decision for 8th graders leave to a performance of The Nutcracker before it began due to casting choices. The mistake is contrary to our inclusive spirit and reminds us our actions should affirm that we are all God’s children.

To clarify what happened, the decision was made for the NDA eighth graders to leave a performance of The Nutcracker before it began because upon arrival they discovered that the producer had chosen to cast two men as the main character’s parents. However, the Spirit of Inclusion statement adopted by the NDA Board of Trustees in 2014 affirms that we in the Notre Dame Academy community welcome all into our Gospel community including but not limited to people of all colors, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender expression, abilities, economic classes and nationalities.

We consider the decision to not attend the performance a mistake and sincerely apologize to anyone we offended. The action does not reflect NDA’s true values.

Rest assured we will redouble our efforts to live up to our inclusion statement. Sometimes we teach our children as much from our mistakes as from our successes.

We view this as a chance to teach our students the value of taking ownership of one’s mistakes and to reaffirm that our community is committed to inclusion.

Image via YouTube

But Patrick Reilly, above,President of the Cardinal Newman Society, which “promotes and defends faithful Catholic education,” called the incident a tragic example of an inclusion statement causing serious harm, despite good intentions.

Bristling with mean-mindedness and intolerance, he trumpeted:

The chaperones did exactly what any Catholic educator should do: removing students from a scandalous situation without discriminating against anyone. The school leadership’s response was shameful and raises serious questions about the authenticity of the formation at this school.

For their part, students painted the school’s “spirit rock” in rainbow colors with the message that “God loves u.”

Image via YouTube

Nathan Allen, artistic director of Chicago’s House Theatre which produced the The Nutcracker performance, said the school had made a similar apology to the theater company. He commented to the Chicago Tribune:

All in all it was sad, confusing and embarrassing for the students and chaperones. The leadership at the theater at that performance did a wonderful job by encouraging them to talk about it.

The family in ‘The Nutcracker,’ is always a gesture of how we can include all Chicagoans. In the 10th anniversary of the show this year, we were really excited because we have never done this before.

Allen said the show has invited Notre Dame’s eighth graders back to see The Nutcracker.

Robert Shine, of New Ways Ministry, wrote last week:

That invitation is an opportunity for reconciliation where school administrator’s can enact their stated commitment to inclusion and can teach students how to own one’s mistakes and rectify them so justice is done.

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  • Raging Bee

    The mistake is contrary to our inclusive spirit…

    Then why didn’t the chaperones get the memo about that “inclusive spirit?” I guess this is one of those churches Pat Green mentioned, which loudly CLAIM to be “inclusive” and “welcoming,” but really aren’t, and don’t mean it when they claim they are.

  • Götterdämmerung

    The Catholics, as do all religions, love to hate. Worse still their bigotry is being taught to children.

  • epeeist

    The chaperones did exactly what any Catholic educator should do: removing students from a scandalous situation

    Scandalous? To use a phrase from elsewhere, bring me my clutching pearls and fainting couch.

  • Jim Jones

    The religion of hate shows its true colors again.

  • Raging Bee

    If they were so concerned about what the kids in their care are exposed to, why didn’t they have a closer look at the info BEFORE they decided to take them to this event? Isn’t that what chaperones are supposed to do? Even if I agreed with their bigotry, I’d still be wondering who dropped the ball on this one.

  • Tawreos

    called the incident a tragic example of an inclusion statement causing serious harm, despite good intentions.

    Yes, the policy of including all people is more problematic than the hatred that so many religious people thinks is the cornerstone of their faith.

  • Anri

    But how can god even know you’re being Rightfully Offended In His Name if you don’t bother a lot of other people with it?
    I mean, where’s the fun in that?

  • Raging Bee

    Whatsoever we do the the least of God’s people, we do unto God. I guess that includes bothering people with nonsensical fake outrage over trivial stuff…

  • Jack McMillan

    All religions have doctrines – those who accept the doctrines are included, those who don’t are excluded. What you call bigotry, they would call adherence to their beliefs. That is true for any system – there are insiders and outsiders. In much the same way, liberals make “inclusion” and “diversity” the gods of their religion. Anyone deemed a “bigot” is automatically evil and to be shunned. After all, the concept of “inclusion” is more important than actual human beings and true followers of liberalism can always be identified by their parroting of the sacred words, even if they in fact are the most intolerant arse-holes of all.

  • Jack McMillan

    Every religion has doctrines. Those who follow the doctrines are the “in” crowd and those who don’t are the “outsiders”. That’s true for every belief system, including the one that says “inclusion” is the most important thing in the whole fricking universe. You know, YOUR belief system, the one that EXCLUDES everyone who doesn’t agree with YOU.

  • Jack McMillan

    In Saudi Arabia and Iran, homosexuals are publicly executed – the religion of “peace” (you know, the one you libs love so much) shows its true colors. All religions are intolerant to some extent – they have to be. They have doctrines, beliefs – those who don’t accept their teachings of course are excluded. That’s true of any organized system, including liberalism.

  • So glad I escaped.

  • Ann Kah

    Clara’s relationship with her uncle, who is clearly “grooming” the young girl, never seems to incur the wrath of the religious. Hmmm, I wonder why that is…

  • Götterdämmerung

    Alt-right troll, you are in the wrong place. Clearly you do not understand liberalism .

  • Fester Sixonesixonethree

    Aside from the stupidity of the chaperones, I must point out that “payed” is NOT a word. The word is “paid.”

  • Erik1986

    Indeed, we are intolerant of intolerance. I may not believe in god(s), but I don’t EXCLUDE people because they do, unless they are hateful and intolerant. One can believe what one wants, but when you ACT on thos beliefs to the harm of others, yeah, I’m not going to regard you as a “nice” person.

  • NathairNimheil

    What you call bigotry, they would call adherence to their beliefs.

    And we would both be right.

    In much the same way, liberals make “inclusion” and “diversity” the gods of their religion.

    Even if such fatuous drivel were accurate, it would still not rehabilitate the bigotry and intolerance under discussion. Saying “You have a religion too but your religion is about tolerance and inclusivity while ours is about bigotry and hatred!” doesn’t exactly put us on an ethically equal footing.

  • Joe_Buddha

    Not sure how that applies to the Buddhism I practiced for so long. There was a bit of bitterness about the Christianity so many managed to escape, but most got over it. And, I know liberalism isn’t a religion. At least to most of us.

  • Franciscan

    One must make allowances for spelling inconsistencies in the slapdash environment of social media, as in that Facebook posting. Also for the possibility that Ed, working under severe constraints, is not able to go through every extract with a fine-toothed comb, though I’m sure he would prefer to do so.

  • persephone

    Every comment you make proves you a prime example of Dunning-Kruger effect.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    As I recall, secular legal systems were the sole restraint to harsh methods of corporal punishment here in the USA. Left to itself, the ethical standards of religion would have cheerfully continued to flog, castrate, and imprison homosexuals. Your suggestion that conservatives and liberals are equally intolerant reveals a wide swath of unexamined life, or at least history.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    Parents bought the tickets and presumably opted in explicitly with a signed permission form. So what the chaperones actually did was interfere with internal family instructional decisions. Seems like the champions of parental rights have a highly selective and self serving commitment to supporting them.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    This is Freethinker, not DftCW, which on reflection only emphasizes your point.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    It seems like you are claiming that intolerance is ubiquitous to some degree. So our exclusionary reaction is perfectly natural. What is your point of disagreement?

  • Freethinkers: You must accept Climate Change and Evolution because Science!

    Also Freethinkers: You must accept that women can be men and men can be women! Forget Science!!

  • Vanity Unfair

    It is, truly, an easy mistake to make. Professional dancing is universally known for its complete absence of homosexual participants. In the same way, so are professional sports, professional medicine, professional business and even professional teaching all completely without homosexual participation. The only gaiety involved is the joie de vivre of the performers. I’m sure you can understand the confusion of the chaperone.
    Similarly Patrick Reilly, …President of the Cardinal Newman Society must be shocked at the proceedings. Even John Henry Newman himself would be nonplussed to learn of such goings-on, living, as he did, such a sheltered life with his close male friend with whom he was interred after death.
    Get over it. Some people are gay. There are as many manifestations as there are of heterosexuality.
    The only people being put out are the students (and, of course, the parents who paid for the outing).

  • Thanks4AllTheFish

    I’ll believe a religion that has doctrines actually has followers that strongly hold those doctrines when I see them demonstrating the same fervor towards other abominations as demanded in their sacred tome. You folks seem to have a selective agenda.

  • Stephen Mynett

    Agree about severe constraints. Not sure what the set up is but tend to think Barry is almost alone on the editorial side of things so spotting mistakes becomes difficult. Nearly all writers or editors will agree that is is very difficult to proof read your own material as once you have made an error as you tend not to notice it no matter how many times you re-read the piece.

    Newspapers used to employ readers whose job was to go through everything being published, this meant that after the writer the article was first read and, possibly adjusted/trimmed, by a sub-editor and then finally checked by the reader. Thus any piece was seen by at least three different people and the chances of errors much reduced. Unfortunately readers are long gone and some media sources now expect writers to sub their own stuff. It is a shame but simply a budget matter.

  • Barry Duke

    I DID note that “payed” was in the original FB posting. When I put this piece up I meant to put a sic in brackets after the word, but neglected to do so. Sorry, but on that day I was suffering both the flu and conjunctivitis.

  • Arthur F. Meincke

    The Roman Catholic Church is the world’s oldest terrorist organization!

  • Jim Jones

    Who else thinks that these chaperones knew the truth and did this on purpose? It was just more virtue signaling.

  • Jim Jones

    Without the murder option they are powerless.

  • Jim Jones

    Religion isn’t about doctrines. They’re decoration. Religion is about who is in and who is out of the group. People fight to be near the power center.

  • laura1919

    That second one is “because Science” too.

  • Brian Curtis

    The chaperon saw a same-sex couple on stage (doing what? holding hands while dancing?), so she panicked and ran away in terror.
    And Reilly calls that “responsible and sensible behavior”! This is just pathetic. There’s not even a line between fear and hate with these people; they’re fully interchangeable. I guess we should be thankful this incident of ‘gay panic’ didn’t trigger a more violent response.

  • Lauren Greene

    As an atheist humanist, I don’t exclude anyone unless they are hateful, intolerant bigots and hide behind religion to justify their ugliness and bigotry.

  • Lauren Greene

    Begone, sheep! Get back to your field…braying and chewing your cud.

  • Lauren Greene

    Religious nut jobs reject science because it doesn’t support their Middle Eastern death cult nonsense.

  • Etranger

    I feel sorry for the chaperone. She knows that the CAtholic teaching would require her to do exactly what she did. But she works for a Catholic school that is confusing things by not following Catholic teaching completely. All these kids are growing up in a confusing environment as well. The Church is clear on its teachings against gay people and you cannot be a friend of GLBT and be a practicing Catholic. Shame on the adults for confusing the children. Take them out of that school immediately and do not abuse them by sending them to Church. Teach them that it is okay to be gay and not judge gay people and that in order to believe that and practice being a good person it is impossible to be a Catholic.

  • Thanks4AllTheFish

    “Arbitrarily declaring one’s beliefs as “bigoted and hatred” is bigoted and hateful.”

    Then I guess it’s fortuitous that NathairNimheil didn’t “arbitrarily” declare anyone’s beliefs as bigoted and hateful. Nice strawman you built there. There is ample evidence of religiously-motivated hatred and bigotry so the use of the word ‘arbitrary’ in your comment is disingenuous.

    Additionally, claiming that one is being bigoted and hateful towards those who are hateful and bigoted is a false dichotomy. One should rightfully be intolerant of those who are bigoted and hateful regardless of what causes them to be that way. If a religious dogma preaches an agenda that marginalizes and dehumanizes certain segments of society purely because they feel they, and they alone, own the patent on all morality, then those outside of that indoctrinated manner of myopic, negative thinking, are going to push back and assert the rights to exist and partake equally in the gifts of life. Historically, this is the kind of thing that has usually ended badly for religion and hopefully hastens it’s eventual demise into irrelevance.

  • se habla espol

    The Freethinker, scientific observation includes the rest of the story: You must accept that persons said to be women can be men and persons said to be men can be women. Since it’s An Authority, rather than reality, that issues birth certificates, though, xtians and other transphobes worship the BC.

  • se habla espol

    In that case, it’s a Good Thing™ that liberalism is not an organized system, isn’t it.

  • se habla espol

    Religious in-groups don’t concern themselves with doctrine: it’s all about the underlying emotions and bigotries the grifters depend on. If you don’t hate the people the grifter hates and tells you to hate, you’re out.
    Since beliefs are nothing more than opinions, they can be changed at any time. Actual bigotries concern issues of fact, not opinion; fact like sex, gender, sexual preference, dermal melanin density, country of origin, and the like.

  • Raging Bee

    Looks more like hate-signaling to me.

  • Thanks4AllTheFish

    My humanity entreats me to be kind to those willing to accept kindness, understanding to those who choose to be obtuse, and benevolent to the less fortunate.

  • Thanks4AllTheFish

    “It is not mine. It is His. I have no control.”

    You have my sympathy. It must be very confusing to compartmentalize such cognitive dissonance by living in the third person. There is a solution but it requires that you take back your own agency and not be beholden by proxy.

  • DeadBabyJoke

    He also commanded ethnic cleansing, mass murder, genocide, and infanticide. How “loving.”

  • DeadBabyJoke

    If you don’t want to be (accurately) called a bigot, then don’t act like a bigot, snowflake. It’s rather amusing that conservatives think that treating people with basic decency and respect is “political correctness,” when it’s really conservatives throwing a temper tantrum because more and more people are rejecting their hateful garbage. And because it’s getting harder and harder to act like a bigoted @$$hole without experiencing criticism and push back for it.

  • DeadBabyJoke

    No, words and actions determine who is a a bigot, and Christians are some of the biggest bigots on the planet. We have the ENTIRE recorded history of your evil, disgusting, genocidal death cult as proof.

  • DeadBabyJoke


  • DeadBabyJoke

    Christians aren’t “more “peaceful” or “less violent” than Muslims, you deluded, lying hypocrite. You conveniently ignore that Christians were publically executing homosexuals until the late twentieth century. You, as a Christian, are in no position to criticize or judge Muslims for doing what Christians were doing before Islam even existed. Christians don’t have the moral high ground, and never have. But I’m not surprised that you’ve chosen to willfully ignore inconvenient facts that contradict your false narrative.

  • DeadBabyJoke

    He’s a murderous, genocidal, tyrant who commits mass murder whenever He throws a temper tantrum. That’s the EXACT opposite of an allegedly all-loving God. If you can justify the atrocities in the Bible, then you can justify ANYTHING. Christians have no right to talk about “morality.”

  • DeadBabyJoke

    And saving seven people isn’t a demonstration of mercy or morality. Especially since God decided to murder everyone on the planet for being imperfect and sinful, even though that was God’s fault in the first place.

  • DeadBabyJoke

    Spare me the “God created humanity so He can do whatever He wants to us” bullshit69. Believers might might buy that nonsense, but we don’t.

  • I will pray the Lady of the Lake (not that bitchy elven goddess) for you.

  • I hate those people as much as Fundies. STFU.

  • I will pray Mielikki, Our Lady of the Forest, and her sister Eldath, the Green Goddess, for you.

  • DeadBabyJoke

    You also ignore American Christian fundies using their power to influence the laws of other countries to make homosexuality illegal, or even a capital offense. Like Uganda.Hypocritical douchebag69.

  • DeadBabyJoke

    You aren’t being obtuse, you’re so f.cking dense that you’re in the danger of collapsing into a stupidity singularity.

  • joshua ;redeemed

    Why you stuttering?

  • joshua ;redeemed

    You need help. Put the trench coat back in the closet. You’re a freak. Deal with it.

  • Sophotroph

    There it is, folks. Christian love. Exhibit A.

    Can’t win the argument by puffing up your chest and borrowing imaginary authority?

    On to pouring out the hate bucket and proving incontrovertably that you are exactly what he said you were!

    Do you all have a flowchart or something?

  • DeadBabyJoke

    Says the child rape69 apologist defending a global pedophile69 ring. Only a truly sick, depraved person would defend the Raping69 Children Church. That makes YOU the freak.

  • DeadBabyJoke

    What’s the matter, snowflake? Throwing a temper tantrum because you got shit69 for an argument?