University of Mississippi: Full audience to attend LGBT session for interrupting Matthew Shepard play

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The University of Mississippi has said it is unclear whether footballers led the heckling of a play about Matthew Shepard last week, and that all students in attendance are required to attend an “educational dialogue”.

Reports last week suggested that several members of the University of Mississippi football team last week interrupted a theatre production of a play about murdered Wyoming teenager Matthew Shepard, shouting homophobic slurs during the play.

According to the Daily Mississippian, many of the players were in attendance at the Laramie Project performance as a requirement for a theatre course at the university.

Reports said that the players were “taking pictures of cast members while making fun of them, talking on their cell phones, hollering at the females in the cast and talking to other audience members during the acts.”

The athletic department at the school has reportedly forced the players to apologise to the student performers. The chancellor Dan Jones, and the athletic director Ross Bjork, issued a statement into the players’ actions, and confirming an investigation.

Now it has been revealed that all students present would be made to attend the “educational dialogue” led by faculty and Allies, a group which raises awareness of LGBT issues on campus.

In a statement to USA Today on Friday, the school said it was difficult to get to the bottom of which students and players were responsible for the slurs because the darkened theatre made it hard to see who initiated the heckling.

It said: “The task of identifying specific individuals who were purported to have disrupted the performance is difficult because of the dark theatre, and initial reports vary in regard to the frequency, volume and source of the comments or disruption. Although initial reports indicate that student-athletes led the action, it is important to note that this has not been verified and they were not the only students present. Reports indicate that comments were made by student athletes and students but no report has singled out a specific student or mentioned any names.”