School Faces Criticism for Excluding Gay Actor, Maulik Pancholy

Maulik Pancholy in NBC's '30 Rock' (left) with Phineas and Ferb from Disney+ (right)
Credit: NBC's '30 Rock' / Disney+

This week, a Disney voice actor and NBC’s 30 Rock star was informed that he was no longer welcome at the Cumberland Valley School District’s Mountain View Middle School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, because of his “lifestyle.” Actor Maulik Pancholy, who has been an actor for nearly 30 years, was invited to the school to share his two young adult novels about the complexities of growing up with the students.

Credit: Disney

His two novels, The Best at It and Nikhil Out Loud, help middle school students come to terms with their sexual identity. However, Mr Mr.ncholy was told he would not be allowed to go attende Pennsylvania School District because of his “lifestyle” and “activism.”

Maulik Pancholy said on Instagram:

As a middle schooler, I never saw myself represented in the stories around me. I couldn’t find books that featured South Asian-American or LGBTQ+ characters. They didn’t exist. And when I set out to write my own novels so many years later, I was still hard-pressed to find those stories. It’s why I wrote my books in the first place. Because representation matters. When I visit schools, my “activism” is to let all young people know that they’re seen. To let them know that they matter. When I talk about the characters in my books feeling “different,” I’m always surprised by how many young people raise their hands – regardless of their identities and backgrounds – wanting to share about the ways in which they, too, feel different. That’s the power of books. They build empathy. I wonder why a school board is so afraid of that?

phineas, ferb, and perry the platypus

Credit: Disney+

The Cumberland Valley School District School Board voted 8-0 to cancel Maulik Pancholy’s upcoming appearance after district leaders faced backlash from community members. Before the cancellation, Pancholy said that he planned to discuss bullying and be more empathetic with the middle school students.

Pancholy is best known for playing Jonathan on the NBC series 30 Rock. He has also had a long career as a voice actor, including hundreds of episodes of Disney’s Phineas and Ferb.

In addition to his acting, Pancholy served on President Barack Obama’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and started Act to Change, an anti-bullying organization. Pancholy resigned from the Presidential Advisory Commission after the election of Donald Trump.

Barack Obama at Walt Disney World

Credit: Disney

In canceling his appearance, the Pennsylvania School District said it did not want his “activism” taught to its children.

Cumberland Valley School District board member Bud Shaffner said at the meeting:

If you research this individual, he labels himself as an activist, he is proud of his lifestyle and I don’t think that should be imposed upon our students at any age.

Despite the cancellation, Pacholy told the Mountain View Middle School students that he “sees them” and wants them to know that “they belong.”

What do you think of the Cumberland Valley School Board canceling Pancholy’s appearance? Let us know in the comments.

This post originally appeared on Inside the Magic

About Rick

Rick is an avid Disney fan. He first went to Disney World in 1986 with his parents and has been hooked ever since. Rick is married to another Disney fan and is in the process of turning his two children into fans as well. When he is not creating new Disney adventures, he loves to watch the New York Yankees and hang out with his dog, Buster. In the fall, you will catch him cheering for his beloved NY Giants.

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