School in Pennsylvania Changes Course, Welcomes Gay Actor’s Anti-Bullying Speech

A Pennsylvania school district has made a turnaround regarding actor and children’s book author Maulik Pancholy’s planned appearance after concerns were raised about his personal life.

Responding to public outcry, including from students, the Cumberland Valley School District’s board voted 5-4 to permit Pancholy’s speech, scheduled for May 22 at Mountain View Middle School.

Initially, on April 15, the board unanimously canceled Pancholy’s talk, citing concerns about his activism and lifestyle, alongside a policy against hosting overtly political events. However, this decision sparked backlash from the community, particularly the LGBTQ+ community, who found it hurtful.

Superintendent Mark Blanchard and other district leaders expressed remorse over the cancellation, asserting that Pancholy’s speech aimed to advocate for equality and should have been allowed. They underscored the importance of treating all individuals fairly and noted that the decision was made without proper consultation.

Maulik Pancholy, known for his roles on television shows like “30 Rock” and “Weeds,” as well as his advocacy work, expressed gratitude to the community for their support. He commended the students who spoke up for his speech, applauding their courage and dedication to love, inclusion, respect, and belonging.

Pancholy’s school visits aim to provide representation and empowerment to young people, especially those who may feel marginalized. He stressed the significance of representation in literature and storytelling, sharing that his own experiences as a middle school student inspired him to create books with diverse characters.

The reversal of the decision is viewed as a triumph for inclusivity and underscores the importance of listening to diverse voices in educational settings. Pancholy’s upcoming speech is anticipated to deliver a message of acceptance and support for all students, reaffirming their significance and worth.

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