Former Sherman choir teacher alleges current superintendent tampered with past productions

She said she experienced pushback in the school's 2015 musical, Legally Blonde, for having gay characters.
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 4:44 PM CST
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SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) - A former Sherman High School Theater choir director is shedding light on alleged discrimination from the administration in past productions.

Anna Clarkson, who served as the director from 2014-2017, was among the 65 people to address the Sherman ISD Board of Trustees during Monday night’s meeting.

“I directed Oklahoma!, Legally Blonde, Cinderella, and Singing in the Rain Junior,” Clarkson said.

Adding when she directed Oklahoma! there was no question about casting, as there has been in this year’s musical.

But Clarkson said she did receive pushback for the school’s 2015 production of Legally Blonde from the current superintendent, Dr. Tyson Bennett. At the time he was an assistant superintendent.

She said she was excited to share about the diverse cast with local news outlets, including KXII.

“How outstanding it was that her students were able to play and see roles on stage that they identified with, referencing to the gay and lesbian characters,” Clarkson said.

She added that soon after, she and her principal were called into a meeting with Dr. Bennett.

“And asked me how in the world I thought it was appropriate to have lesbian and gay characters in a high school production,” Clarkson said.

She went on to say that Dr. Bennett wanted to cancel the show during opening week. This devastated students like Lilly Boessen, who was a Freshman in the play at the time.

“We had costuming, we had our set, all ready to go,” Boessen said, “I just remember feeling this sort of uncertainty.”

Clarkson said she reached out to the licensing company for permission to make Dr. Bennett’s changes - they said no.

“We could not make the lesbian character straight and cut out the gay character altogether,” Clarkson said.

So Legally Blonde, similar to this year’s musical Oklahoma!, took the bearcat stage as originally cast.

“It’s not the first time, it probably wasn’t the first time when it happened in Legally Blonde as well,” Boessen said.

News 12 reached out to the Sherman ISD for comment but it was declined.