Censorship on Stage: Plays and Musicals Challenged at High Schools

By Gabriella Steinberg, Billy Rose Theatre Division Librarian
October 19, 2023
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Two women dressed in white on a stage, one sits and reaches her hand out to the other

Performance still of "Indecent."

Photo by Carol Rosegg. Billy Rose Theatre Division.

This fall, in response to recent increases in book banning and censorship across the country—particularly targeting books for young people—The New York Public Library launched our all-new Books for All initiative to provide opportunities for teens across the country to access frequently banned books, participate in events, and exercise the freedom to read. As attempts to ban books are on the rise, so too are efforts to challenge or ban the performance—and, in some cases, study—of select plays and musicals in high schools, often in response to their inclusion of LGBTQ+ themes or other content that school officials deem inappropriate for teenagers. Here are just a few of the plays and musicals censored or banned from being performed on school stages in America. You can check out these plays and musical libretti at the Library for the Performing Arts.