In Sherman High School’s upcoming production of “Oklahoma!,” a senior student, Max Hightower, who identifies as a transgender male, was initially cast in a lead role but was later removed from the part.
The school’s principal cited a new policy, stating that only males could play male roles and females could play female roles. Max’s father, Phillip Hightower, expressed dismay, asserting that his son’s identity had never been an issue before. The decision not only affected Max but also led to the removal of other students from their roles. Parents, including Max’s father, plan to appeal to the school board. Sherman ISD released a statement, mentioning a review of the production due to mature themes, profane language, and sexual content, asserting that casting decisions were based on the sex of the role as identified in the script.
In response to the controversy, Max’s family has received widespread community support, and Austin College’s theater department invited Max to a special event. While Sherman ISD emphasized the need to review all aspects of the production for appropriateness on the high school stage, Max’s father contested that this explanation differed from what the principal had communicated. The district announced a postponement of the performances from December 8-10, 2023, to a later date, with a commitment to working on producing a version of “Oklahoma!” deemed suitable for the high school setting. The statement did not indicate a broader policy change but focused on the unique aspects of this particular production.