Phyllis Friedman oral history interview, 2015 March 02. OH-00104. [Audio recording]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d17m06k67
Standardized Rights Statement
Right now, I'm continuing as a volunteer?because I started it before?for ?The Laramie Project.? ?The Laramie Project? is the story of Matthew Shepard who was hanged on the fence in Wyoming because he was gay and segued into the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd federal hate laws. Our Washington office did most of the writing of that law. It took nine years to pass it. ?The Laramie Project? is a play and a couple of years ago Green Valley High School decided they were going to put it on. The primarily Mormon community got terribly up in arms because of the gay [theme]. It's about hate. It's really not about being gay; it's about hate and the impact on the community. But to make a long story short, they sued the principal. They picketed the school. It was ugly. It was really ugly. They lost everything. The principal was terrific in that he said, ?You don't have to come. You don't have to bring your kid.? We were not a part of that incident. However, it was done last year at another high school; we were a part of it and it was very successful. This year I got a call from Foothill High School who has a new principal, Joe Caruso, who said they were doing ?The Laramie Project.? It is a community out in Henderson, a strongly Mormon community. He knew all the problems Green Valley had and wanted to avoid them, so he engaged both us and the LGBT Center as guidance. They're going to present it in April. I've already done a teacher program with him, and a parent program. We're also going to do a town hall program where he's going to invite the religious leaders of the community and whoever else. I said, ?I'll be there.? I also reached out to the FBI. I want somebody to talk on hate crimes. That's how we get in to the community. Now, we're this Jewish organization. None of these people are Jewish. But it's anti-hate. It's fighting bigotry. It's educating the community. We can do that. A Jewish Federation or whatever, their guidelines are much tighter than ours as to how far they're able to spread their wings. We have amazing elasticity. I'm very proud to be a part of that. That's wonderful. I was very flattered when Joe Caruso called me because our reputation was then known that we would be people to help him to do this. That was very flattering, to have achieved that. That's a great example of how that works; that it's not based upon religion, but it's about culture and communication. Right. Culture and community.