WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 16, 2011, 08:54 AM

Mother of cast member blows the whistle on publicity stunt

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A hoax, hatched by 2 Fargo South students to help promote the school's production of "The Laramie Project," has blown up. A mother of one of the cast members has blown the whistle on, what's being called a publicity stunt.

Some students in the play started a Facebook page that was exclusive to people in the play. Cindy Gomez says her daughter felt the hoax went too far. The Facebook page not only invited Westboro Baptist Church to come and protest, but included derogatory messages about gays.

Cindy Gomez found out 2 months ago her daughter Sara is bi-sexual. Sara was cast in South's production of the Laramie Project, the 2nd most performed play in high schools in the U-S because of its message of tolerance. Sara thought it was perfect.

"She was researching her role in the play it gave her an avenue to look at her own life safely so she was really happy."

Sara had access to this closed Facebook page put up by cast members. Cindy says there were derogatory messages toward gays posted. Cindy says her daughter came to her when she learned about an invitation to the controversial church, known for protesting.

"For her to be watching as the students, the peers she was going to perform with make fun of gays and invite a hate group that she's going to have to go by and witness. That is terrorizing someone that is causing terror in someone and she had to endure it for a long time."

Cindy went to the school, and demanded action taken on the students who started this.

"We don't have to discipline these students because they didn't do anything wrong. I said really so you condone the behavior of these students? Look they just made some contacts that doesn't mean that the Westboro Baptist Church was going to come here because of those contacts."

School leaders have had meetings with the students responsible, but they won't say how the students may be disciplined. They did say they believe the students didn't mean any harm by what was done.

"Whether they really knew who they were dealing with or not is very vague. I think that it was obviously a contact that was not done with any intention to escalate a situation, but one that exhibited some rather poor judgment."

Cindy says her daughter is now getting messages from people. Calling her pathetic, saying that she's ruining peoples lives by reporting all of this.