This article points out that although we’ve made great strides in safety for LGBTQ students in schools, many horrifying situations still exist. There is a film that although met with a firestorm of controversy, has become an incredible resource for parents, students, and teachers alike: It’s Elementary. This film, which the San Francisco Chronicle said “could become one of the most important films ever devoted to lesbian and gay issues”, looks at the debate around educating students about gay and lesbian issues. It is sweet, touching and even funny. Told through the words of children as young as first graders, it shows us the impact of homophobia on our society, the efforts of many teachers to go against the mainstream and teach acceptance around sexuality, and the openheartedness of many students when encountering gay and lesbian issues for the first time.
LOGO will be showing a follow up video about the history of It’s Elementary call It’s STILL Elementary. If you can get your hands on the original, or can watch LOGO’s retrospective, please do so. And, pass the word.
Many of the obstacles that were present when It’s Elementary was first released in 1996 still haunt our schools. Students are still physically and verbally harassed (many to the point where they miss a great deal of school for fear of further harassment), there are still homophobic teachers and parents pressuring school boards to censor any information about gay and lesbian lives from the curriculum.
However, there are also great strides with many more teachers speaking out, with a growing presence of GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). Work in schools to increase acceptance and safety for LGBT students is essential both for the ongoing health of LGBT students but also for creating a community and culture that is just, accepting and informed about non-mainstream sexual orientations. It remains clear that even the voice of one student activist, one teacher, school counselor or parent speaking for the rights of all students to attend school in safety can make an enormous difference.
Have you had experiences of harassment in your school? Was there a particular person you were able to turn to for help or solace? Your comments are invited below!