CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. (Diya TV) – Parents in a Pennsylvania school district rallied against an unanimous decision by the school board to cancel a speaking engagement by Indian American actor Maulik Pancholy, known for his role in “30 Rock” and his advocacy work, forcing the board to revisit and ultimately allow Pancholy to speak. The cancellation sparked outrage among community members, leading to a petition with over 6,000 signatures urging the board to reverse its decision.

Pancholy, who is openly gay and a children’s book author, was slated to speak at Mountain View Middle School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. However, the Cumberland Valley School District (CVSD) board unanimously voted to cancel his appearance, citing concerns about his “activism” and “lifestyle.”

The actor’s books, such as “Nikhil Out Loud” and “The Best at It,” tackle themes of empathy, anti-bullying, and inclusion. Nevertheless, some board members expressed apprehension about the topics Pancholy might discuss, labeling him an activist and expressing discomfort with his personal life.

Trisha Comstock, a parent in the school district, initiated the petition to overturn the board’s decision, emphasizing the importance of embracing diverse perspectives in educational settings. The petition has garnered significant support, with thousands of signatures from concerned parents, students, and community members.

During an initial board meeting where the decision was made, members voiced objections to Pancholy’s intended message, raising questions about the appropriateness of his content for students. Despite Pancholy’s assurance that his talks focus on promoting empathy and inclusivity, the board remained steadfast in its decision to cancel the event.

After thousands of petitions came in, a special hearing featuring more than five hours of public comment led the board to overturn their decision, voting 5-4 to let Pancholy speak.

In response to the controversy, Pancholy expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support from the community and emphasized the importance of representation in literature. 

Pancholy tells Diya TV he will present his remarks to the students on May 22nd and we hope to discuss this saga in full with him thereafter.