Arizona high students wearing Ku Klux Klan hoods and robes during a theater production ignited a firestorm for their portrayal of the white supremacist terror group. 

Parents claimed Arizona State University (ASU) Preparatory Academy officials at the Phoenix campus did not notify them about the usage of KKK costumes in the play last week. According to ABC 15 News, the three students at the center of the controversy were part of a production of The Foreigner, a play that features the KKK

Many were outraged because they believe the roles could have been played without "full [KKK] regalia."

The Foreigner, written by Larry Shue, is a comedy centered around two characters vacationing in a rural Georgia fishing lodge. Another character who has it out for the main cast wanted to turn the lodge into a KKK stronghold for a local chapter.

For nearly three decades, the play has been performed around the country, but it has drawn criticism at high schools because of its inclusion of KKK characters. Last year, a Minnesota high school production was canceled because of the costumes. 

"We can talk about racial prejudice, we can talk about the insensitivity, but to have our children put on the robes and assume the characters, it's wrong,” one of the parents told ABC 15. “There is no justification for it."

An ASU Prep Academy spokesperson defended the roles. He told local media the KKK was briefly featured toward the end of the play and were ridiculed for their racist beliefs. 

“We apologize if anyone was caught by surprise with the appearance of these characters,” the spokesman said in a statement. “We are confident that a fair reading of the text of the play, and a fair interpretation of the intentions of students who performed it, reveals no endorsement of bigotry.”

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