'30 Rock' actor Maulik Pancholy speaks out after school board cancels author visit

Maulik Pancholy attends the South Asians at the Oscars pre-Oscars party at Paramount Studios on March 4, 2024, in Los Angeles.
Maulik Pancholy attends the South Asians at the Oscars pre-Oscars party at Paramount Studios on March 4, 2024, in Los Angeles.

A "30 Rock" actor whose school visit was canceled because of his "lifestyle" is speaking out.

Maulik Pancholy, who played Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin)'s assistant Jonathan on the NBC sitcom, said his "heart goes out" to the Pennsylvania students and community where a school board voted unanimously to cancel his school visit.

"When I visit schools, my 'activism' is to let all young people know that they’re seen. To let them know that they matter," Pancholy, 50, captioned a video on Instagram Thursday.

The school board, during a public meeting posted on social media Monday, voted 8-0 to cancel Pancholy's May 22 appearance at Mountain View Middle School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Cumberland Valley School District board members said they were concerned about his political activism and "lifestyle," purportedly a reference to Pancholy being openly gay.

USA TODAY has reached out to the Cumberland Valley school board and Pancholy's rep for comment.

Pancholy, who is also known as the voice of Baljeet Tjinder in "Phineas and Ferb" and Sanjay Patel in "Weeds," authored two middle-grade children's books: 2019's "The Best At It" about a thriving gay, Indian American boy and 2022's "Nikhil Out Loud" about middle school theater kids rising up against homophobia. In addition to public speaking and school visits, his website notes his activist work as part of former President Barack Obama's advisory commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and co-founding the commission's anti-bullying campaign Act To Change, now a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit.

"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," he said in his Instagram post.

Pancholy continued: "That’s the power of books. They build empathy. I wonder why a school board is so afraid of that?"

The actor said he had heard from current and former students and faculty at the school, thanking them for "the outpouring of solidarity, love and support."

Parents and teachers in the Cumberland Valley School District also shared their frustrations with the school board's decision under the post.

"As a parent in the cumberland valley school district we are fighting like hell right now for you. We have a school board meeting May 6th and we are ready to advocate!" one parent commented.

"As a CV parent, I stand with you. I stand for everything you had to say that was silenced by the school board. I, too, ask: WHAT WERE THEY AFRAID OF? #replacetheeight," another parent wrote.

"As a teacher in the Cumberland Valley school district, we stand with you and against our board," read another comment. "They do not represent the love and support we have for your accomplishments, representation, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We are making our voices heard!"

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 30 Rock actor Maulik Pancholy talks canceled school visit