Region: North America
Subject: Language, Sexual/Gender Orientation
Medium: Music, Performance Art
Artist: Indigo Girls
Confronting Bodies: Principals and school officials in three high schools in South Carolina and Tennessee
Dates of Action: Spring, 1998
Location: Irmo High School in Columbia, South Carolina, Germantown High in Germantown and Farragut High in Knoxville, Tennessee
Description of Artwork: The Indigo Girls sing popular fold-rock music. Common themes in their music include love and promoting social consciousness.
The Incident: A concert at Irmo High School in Columbia, South Carolina was canceled because of complaints about the duo's sexuality. Band members Emily Saliers and Amy Ray are lesbians. Principals who canceled scheduled appearances at two Tennessee schools, Germantown High in Germantown and Farragut High in Knoxville, deny that the performers' sexuality was a factor. Instead they cite the lyric "I keep fucking up," from the song Shame on You, which the duo performed at a high school in Georgia last month
Results of Incident: Students at these schools as well as numerous freedom-of-expression advocates strongly protested this decision. Several student demonstrators at each school were suspended for missing classes and disrupting school. The Indigo Girls apologized for performing the song at the Georgia high school and promised to omit Shame on You from future high school concerts. Apparently, however, the Tennessee principals never considered asking the duo to remove the bothersome lyric. Their quick moves to cancel the concerts only after the sexuality issue was raised at Irmo have cast doubt on their justifications. The Indigo Girls subsequently rented halls and invited disappointed students to attend as their guests.