A teacher in North Carolina has returned to the classroom after being suspended for showing students an anti-bullying video.
Imagine if straight children were bullied the way LGBTQ kids are, what would that look like, and would it change how you view homophobia?
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That question is at the center of the brilliant short film “Love is All You Need” by Kim Rocco Shields, made in 2012. The video has over four million views on YouTube, and ends with the bullied child slitting her wrists.
Kimberly Fernetti played the film for her class at North Lincoln High School, drawing complaints from several parents, who called the superintendent’s office.
Fernetti was suspended while school officials investigated the situation.
“I think it’s a great message to get out in the school,” one student told WSOC-TV. “I personally have dealt with bullying, so I think it’s good to get the point across that ‘Hey, it’s not OK to pick on somebody.'”
A family member of another student agreed.
“I don’t think it was vulgar or anything. I think it’s better to be aware and to know the possibility of what kids’ actions could do,” they said.
According to a new report from student advocacy group GLSEN, called “Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited,” LGBTQ students in middle and high school have lower grades, attend class less regularly, and are less likely to graduate as compared to their heterosexual and cisgender peers.
The bullying and harassment can have a lifelong emotional impact, the report found.
North Carolina has been at the center of the LGBTQ rights battle after passing a discriminatory law, House Bill 2 (HB2), which invalidated non-discrimination ordinances passed by cities and municipalities and requires transgender individuals to use the restrooms and locker rooms matching the gender on their birth certificate in government-owned buildings.
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“Love is All You Need” also caused controversy in 2015, when a teacher in Kansas was forced out of his job after playing it, although he was later reinstated.
Watch the film below.
I think more parents and grandparents should call superintendents and complain that not enough is being done to be inclusive of LGBT and Allied students. That way whenever superintendents get complaints on the other side they are bolstered in knowing that many parents and grandparents expect schools to be inclusive and to combat bullying and discrimination.
Thank you, Daniel. Excellent post.
I will tell you this. If the shoe was on the other foot, with those parents who complained, they would be singing a different tune. Those parents are just the ones who are homophobic and teach that same mentality to their children. They are most likely ignorant, intolerant and bigoted fundamentalists, who have no knowledge of the issues of homosexuality nor transgender. They quote from a book that was written by MEN…not God… over 1500 years ago and use it as a reference. It disgusts me when uneducated people talk about a subject, yet are totally misinformed about it. They are perfect examples of this phrase. ‘When you are dead, you do not know you are dead, but everyone else does. It is the same when you are a stupid moron.’
I’m sorry, I really don’t like this video. Don’t get me wrong, the message is incredibly important, but I think best case scenario it will do little good, and worse case scenario it could be incredibly harmful.
This video is clearly modelled off similar alternative worlds where dominant ethnicities, cultures, or genders are inverted, but it doesn’t work the same way because, like it or not, this world would not have survived before modern reproductive technologies (or there needs to be a lot more world building to explain why). People who are invested in this message like us will be happy to suspects disbelief for the importance of the message, but a homophobic bully will simply dismiss it as “impossible.” So all this does is validate the beliefs of people who were already sympathetic to the ideas presented.
More importantly however, the ending is incredibly dangerous to show to someone who is going through a similar situation and considering suicide. The main character’s decision is presented as tragic but understandable. There is a lot of research that shows that depictions of suicide can drive people contemplating it to go through with it, and suicide rates generally go up in the following few days after a prominent news report of suicide, especially when the method is described in detail. This video actually shows how she does it! I would not be surprised if a queer teen going through the same trauma as this main character decided to simply mimic her actions.
I know this video has the best intentions, and the people who wrote in complaining about it probably didn’t, but if I (as a gay woman) had a child who was shown this at school, I would honestly think about talking to the school about it too. Though I wouldn’t want the teacher suspended.
You seem to have overlooked the scene in the church when the priest stated it is a sin for a woman to lie with a man outside the breeding season. So no special reproductive technologies would be warranted.
I do agree the ending is overly strong. The message was clearly conveyed prior to the ending.
No, the ending NEEDS to be shown. This is REALITY. As for school kids? Sure, questionable. Kids mature at different rates, and if someone is in a fragile place this could be dangerous. Hell, I’m a 35 year old woman and it was sort of triggering for me, because I remember how I was treated, every (thankfully failed) suicide attempt, and all the rest as I watch. But…this is the truth. This is reality. It needs to hit home for these homophobes.
My only caveat would be that perhaps a school was not the best place to screen this. Perhaps an after school meeting for an LGBTQ group, with a warning that a graphic film would be shown would have been a better venue.
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