It's Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in School 1996
Distributed by New Day Films,190 Route 17M, P.O. Box 1084, Harriman, NY 10926; 888-367-9154 or 845-774-7051
Produced by Debra Chasnoff and Helen S. Cohen
Directed by Debra Chasnoff
VHS, color, 78 min.
College - Adult
Education, Gay and Lesbian Studies
Date Entered: 11/09/2018Reviewed by Gerald Notaro, University Librarian, Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg
It's Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in School, a 1996 film by documentary and Academy Award winner Debra Chasnoff, has already caused a stir in schools among parents and educators. And, like most good films, it's also racking up a slew of prestigious awards. Among them are Best Documentary at the San Francisco and Chicago International Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals, the CINE Gold Eagle for Teacher Education, and Best Educational Film at The Northern Lights International Film Festival. Now available in video from Women's Educational Media, it is an important 1 hour and 17 minute plea for including gays and lesbians in the diversity pool.
The film shows lessons in tolerance being given in grades 3 through 8. Presented by both gay and straight teachers, techniques include presenting steroetypes of gays and lesbians from the media, talks from "District Approved" gay and lesbian guest speakers, and visiting the Love Makes a Family travelling photo exhibition. News footage of demonstrations opposing such presentations in school curriculum are included, as well as a discussion at a faculty meeting about how to deal with those who disagree with homosexuality on moral and religious grounds. Most teachers found their students ready and willing to at least discuss the issue sensibly.
With gay and lesbian youth accounting for 1/3 of all young suicides, and gay bashing on an alarming rise, It's Elementary arrives none too soon.The real stars of the video are the students, especially a 3rd grader who sums it up with "I don't get it. Who cares if we you're gay? Do you care? It's like, duh, you're gay." The video is appropriate for teachers, parents, and students middle school aged and above. Its inclusion in school collections will certainly fill an unexplored void. Now that it is available in video format, its exclusion will challenge every school librarian's committment to intellectual freedom.