’30 Rock’ actor says his ‘heart goes out’ to students after visit canceled over ‘lifestyle’

A “30 Rock” actor said his “heart goes out” to students at a middle school in Pennsylvania after a scheduled event with him was canceled by the local school board.

Maulik Pancholy, who is openly gay, said in a Thursday Instagram post he “learned via social media that the school board of the Cumberland Valley School District in Pennsylvania voted 8-0 to cancel my scheduled author visit with the students of Mountain View Middle School due to concerns about my ‘activism’ and what they called my ‘lifestyle.'”

“My heart goes out to the entire Mountain View Middle School community, and particularly to the students,” said Pancholy, the author of two books for children that deal with LGBTQ themes, “The Best At It” and “Nikhil Out Loud.”

In a letter dated Thursday to faculty, staff and administration that was obtained by television station CBS 21, the Cumberland Valley School District’s Administrative Offices noted a board decision “to introduce and subsequently approve unanimously a motion on April 15, 2024, to cancel the visit of Mr. Maulik Pancholy to Mountain View Middle School on May 22, 2024.”

“Without a real opportunity for administration to answer questions and/or provide guidance, the Board made a decision that has had significant ramifications for our school community, especially for our students and staff who are members of the LGBTQ community,” the letter said.

“While the issue of ‘political activism’ was cited, statements made publicly by individual board members identified Mr. Pancholy’s sexual identity as a factor, an identity shared by many members of our school community,” the letter continues. “In doing so, Mr. Pancholy’s personhood was reduced to a single aspect, and his ability to communicate a message of anti-bullying and hate was discredited.”

The Hill has reached out to members of the Cumberland Board School District School Board, Mountain View Middle School and the Cumberland Board School District Superintendent Mark Blanchard for comment.

“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,” Pancholy said in his post.

“That’s the power of books. They build empathy,” he added. “I wonder why a school board is so afraid of that?”

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