Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Mombian: Talking with Debra Chasnoff
by Dana Rudolph
2008-03-26

This article shared 4249 times since Wed Mar 26, 2008
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


'It definitely surprised me,' said director Debra Chasnoff of the decision by the Evesham, N.J., school district to exclude her documentary That's a Family from its curriculum, after certain parents objected to its inclusion of gay and lesbian families. In the film, elementary school children explain to their classmates what they'd like them to know about their families. There are kids who were adopted, have multiracial families, are being raised by a single parent or guardian, have divorced parents, or have same-sex parents. 'It's been used in hundreds of communities with no fuss,' the Academy Award-winning filmmaker notes, adding that it was also screened at the Clinton White House.

The Evesham brouhaha began, as did a similar situation over an LGBT-inclusive storybook in Lexington, Mass. ( see Bay Windows, 10/4/07 ) , because of a parent's reaction—or overreaction. Chasnoff explained, 'Rather than going and talking to his child's teacher, he went to the local NBC affiliate and just made a stink. The media ran with it, and fanned the flames of the controversy. It turned out this person is a fundamentalist, and he's been quoted as saying he's doing God's battle by trying to stop the use of this film. He was very successful in gauging other conservative religious organizations to help with all the frenzy.'

The Evesham incident has not, however, stopped her and her media company, Ground Spark ( formerly Women's Educational Media ) , from preparing a re-release of their 1997 film, It's Elementary. While That's a Family is aimed at children, It's Elementary targets parents and educators, documenting how others have addressed LGBT awareness in the classroom. It's Elementary 'has been used in countless ways to provide training to staff, to be a catalyst for dialog in school communities,' Chasnoff explained. She hopes the re-release 'will be an opportunity for people all over the country to engage in a dialog about how far we've come and what else we need to do.'

The new DVD also includes a companion piece, It's STILL Elementary, which looks at why the film was made, people's response, and the situation today. Chasnoff and her team also tracked down six of the original students, and asked whether a lesson in school about LGBT people made a difference in their lives. 'All six of them were profoundly affected by the experience,' Chasnoff found. Five identify as straight, but all are active allies. 'Some of them have formed gay-straight alliance networks. One of them goes to school in a very conservative area, and she's constantly speaking up on behalf of LGBT issues and people. One of them ... had been one of the most prejudiced kids in the class. ... Today, he's working with youth, and finds himself in the role of intervening when kids call each other anti-gay names.' Another child, filmed in fifth grade, turned out to be gay. He said that during the lesson captured in the film, he began to think 'Maybe that's what's going on with me.' He came out years later, but 'just having that experience in a classroom where a teacher was saying supportive things made a world of difference to him.'

Both films are part of Ground Spark's Respect for All Project, which 'seeks to create safe, hate-free schools and communities' through documentaries and accompanying educational campaigns. The series also includes Let's Get Real, an exploration of name-calling and bullying in middle schools, and Straightlaced ( in production ) , about the pressure to conform to traditional gender roles. Chasnoff says the key to success in using any of the films is for schools to communicate first with parents about why they're airing them. Showing them without laying the groundwork 'could be upsetting to some families that are not on the same page with why it's so important.'

She advised screening the films in advance for parents. Parents see kids like their own 'talking with brutal honesty about what's going on in school' and get motivated to initiate or support diversity education in their schools. Parents in non-traditional families get excited that classes will be discussing these issues. Chasnoff also recommended inviting families again when the films are shown in the classroom, to make the stories 'real and relevant.' She reiterated, 'Parental involvement and partnership is really key.' The Evesham school did not involve parents from the beginning, 'so they missed out on having the support of all the parents who would have stood by their side. They got kind of blindsided by a vocal minority who didn't think it was important, or thought it was wrong.'

Ground Spark also produces curriculum guides and training programs for each film, but these should be only a starting point, Chasnoff asserted. A screening of Let's Get Real can help tackle bullying, for example, but needs follow up. 'It's got to be woven into the curriculum on an ongoing basis. People have to see that addressing bullying and name calling and bias is not an adjunct. It's not a discretionary activity that's less important than reading or math or science. It's crucial in order for good reading, math, or science to occur.'

For Chasnoff, a mother of two teens, making the films has a very personal component. 'My boys have been a real motivation,' she saed. 'I've seen what they go through and it's really fueled my desire to do this.'

It's Elementary and It's STILL Elementary are available through www.groundspark.org .

Visit Dana Rudolph at www.mombian.com .


This article shared 4249 times since Wed Mar 26, 2008
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Students urged to apply for Musical Theatre Awards 2021-09-14
- Broadway in Chicago is inviting high schools across Illinois to participate in the 11th Annual Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards. These awards celebrate excellence in high school theater throughout the state. Beginning Thursday, Sept. 16, ...


Gay News

Virginia school district settles with Gavin Grimm 2021-08-28
- A Virginia school district that discriminated against a transgender individual by making him go to the bathroom in a converted supply closet will have to pay $1.3 million in attorney's fees and other costs accrued over ...


Gay News

Report features eight Illinois child-welfare agencies working with HRC Foundation 2021-08-26
--From a press release - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, released a new report ...


Gay News

Campus Pride names one Illinois school to 'Best of the Best' list 2021-08-26
- Campus Pride chose 30 schools this year for the 2021 Best of the Best LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges & Universities List. This list is based on the campuses overall ratings on the Campus Pride Index and specific LGBTQ-inclusive ...


Gay News

Indiana school district wrestles with Pride flag issue 2021-08-21
- A Pride flag hanging in a middle-school classroom has caused an issue that could give rise to a new policy in Indiana's Bluffton-Harrison Metropolitan School District, WANE.com reported. District Superintendent Dr. Brad Yates wrote in a ...


Gay News

Pritzker signs the Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act 2021-08-21
--From a press release - On Friday, Governor JB Pritzker signed the Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act, which creates age-appropriate learning standards for public schools that decide to teach comprehensive personal health and safety ...


Gay News

Gov. Pritzker signs legislation to prevent hair discrimination in schools 2021-08-13
--From a press release - CHICAGO - On Aug. 13, Gov. JB Pritzker signed Senate Bill 817 into law, prohibiting schools from issuing policies on hairstyles historically associated with race or ethnicity. The legislation addresses injustices in dress code polices and ...


Gay News

Gov. Pritzker signs justice-related legislation protecting youth, most vulnerable 2021-07-15
--From a press release - CHICAGO —On Juy 15, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a package of nation-leading legislation that puts Illinois at the forefront of the work to bring about true reform to the state's justice system. "An essential tenet ...


Gay News

Gov. Pritzker signs legislation, Asian American history to be taught in public schools 2021-07-09
--From a press release - SKOKIE - On July 9, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed HB 376, the Teaching Equitable Asian American History Act, into law, making Illinois the first state in the nation to require a unit of Asian American ...


Gay News

Trevor Project data on LGBTQ youth suicide shows urgency of Equality Act 2021-07-06
--From a press release - WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Freedom & Opportunity For All, a national campaign advocating for the urgent passage of the Equality Act, and The Trevor Project, the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ ...


Gay News

Brave Space Alliance unveils mural 2021-06-28
- On June 25, Brave Space Alliance (BSA) unveiled a mural honoring influential community members who have championed advocacy for Chicago's trans community. The mural, by Saul Palos Rodriguez, features the late Lois L. Bates, Sky Cubacub, ...


Gay News

Study finds overrepresentation of LGBTQ+ youth in Midwest Foster Care System 2021-06-17
--From a U of Maryland School of Social Work press release - The study outlined here is one of the first of its kind to be conducted in a Midwestern state, where available data on LGBTQ+ youth is extremely limited. It follows similar studies in New York City ...


Gay News

Dept. of Education: Title IX also protects LGBTQ students 2021-06-16
- The Department of Education will interpret Title IX—a federal law that protects students from sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools—to protect LGBTQ students from discrimination, according to a federal notice ...


Gay News

Back 2 School Illinois Build-A-Kit event Oct. 22, 2021 at Center on Halsted 2021-06-14
--From a press release - We are excited to announce that after a long COVID delay, we will be holding our Back 2 School Illinois Build-A-Kit Event on Oct. 22, 2021. The day-long event, in partnership with the LGBT Chamber of ...


Gay News

New Broadway Youth Center being readied for 2021 opening 2021-06-10
- Work continues on Howard Brown Health's (Howard Brown) new 20,000 square-foot Broadway Youth Center (BYC) facility at 1053 W. Irving Park Rd. BYC has spent years looking for a permanent home. After launching in Lake View, ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.