Pennsylvania school board slammed ‘homophobic’ after cancelling gay Indian-American actor's appearance - Hindustan Times
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Pennsylvania school board slammed ‘homophobic’ after cancelling gay Indian-American actor's appearance

ByAditi Srivastava
Apr 20, 2024 01:57 PM IST

Pennsylvania school faces backlash for canceling anti-bullying talk by gay actor

The decision by a Pennsylvania school to cancel an anti-bullying talk by a gay actor, citing his 'lifestyle,' has fueled widespread outrage and condemnation. The scheduled guest speaker, actor Maulik Pancholy, was disinvited after school board members raised concerns about his sexual orientation and activism, which they termed his "lifestyle." The decision not only upset his parents but also enraged students and community members who believed the school board was promoting discrimination.

FILE - Actor Maulik Pancholy attends the premiere of "Trishna" during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival on Friday, April 27, 2012 in New York. A Pennsylvania school board's cancellation of an upcoming appearance by actor and children’s book author Maulik Pancholy was ill-advised and sends a hurtful message, especially to the LGBTQ+ community, education officials said in a letter Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)(AP)
FILE - Actor Maulik Pancholy attends the premiere of "Trishna" during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival on Friday, April 27, 2012 in New York. A Pennsylvania school board's cancellation of an upcoming appearance by actor and children’s book author Maulik Pancholy was ill-advised and sends a hurtful message, especially to the LGBTQ+ community, education officials said in a letter Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)(AP)

Backlash over school's decision to cancel gay actor's appearance

Parents and community members in a Pennsylvania school district have united to voice their concerns and file a petition against the school board, which voted unanimously on Monday to cancel his appearance. Pancholy, known for his role as Jonathan on "30 Rock," was scheduled to speak at Mountain View Middle School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, on May 22 before the Cumberland Valley School District chose to cancel the event citing concerns about his activism and “lifestyle.”

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Pancholy who authored the book called, Nikhil Out Loud was the main concern of the board. The book follows the story of a gay Indian American boy at school. “He labels himself as an activist, he is proud of his lifestyle, and I don’t think that should be imposed upon our students at any age,” a CVSD board member was heard saying in a video posted by a parent online.

Petition filed against board's decision

This decision has sparked outrage from parents, students, and LGBTQ+ advocates who believe the cancellation sends the wrong message about inclusion and acceptance. The board was slammed ‘homophobic’ by many. According to CNN, a petition started by Trisha Comstock, a parent in the school district, was later joined by more than 6,000 people demanding that the board overturn their decision.

About Maulik Pancholy

Maulik Navin Pancholy is an American actor and author known for his roles in various TV shows and films. He gained fame for his role as Jonathan in 30 Rock and voiced Baljeet Tjinder in Phineas and Ferb. Pancholy also appeared as Neal in the first season of Whitney and played characters named Sanjay Patel in both Weeds and Sanjay and Craig. Born in Dayton, Ohio, Maulik Pancholy hails from a Gujarati Indian family, with roots in Gujarat, India.

Mark Blanchard, the district superintendent joined by other directors of various departments, wrote a letter on Thursday expressing their support for allowing actor Maulik Pancholy's anti-bullying talk to proceed. As per the administrators cited in the Guardian’s report, “the school board’s decision had significant ramifications for our school community, especially for our students and staff who are members of the LGBTQ+ community." The statement added, “Mr Pancholy’s personhood was reduced to a single aspect, and his ability to communicate a message of anti-bullying and hate was discredited.”

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