Student Life and Leadership, along with Orientation Programs, sponsored the film “It’s Elementary: Talking about Gay issues in School” on Monday in the Chumash Auditorium.
The film dealt with issues regarding children’s acceptance and willingness to understand the meaning of being gay or lesbian.
“It is important that elementary students have the information (regarding gays and lesbians),” said Stephen Cohen, volunteer coordinator for the Orientation Programs. “Very often they are confused and are getting the wrong information.”
The goal of showing the film was to provide ideas of how to address questions children might have surrounding the issue of gays and lesbians, Cohen said. The film was not intended for only educators to view but anyone, he said.
Jason Mockford, an Orientation Programs assistant, heard about the film while at the Change the Status Quo Conference and then after watching the film, decided to show the film at Cal Poly.
“It’s Elementary” addresses issues such as teaching children about gays and lesbians. It featured children from first grade to eight grade discussing homosexuality and other words associated with it.
The film featured teachers who found it hard to teach the topic of homosexuality and struggled to find a balance on the issues.
It depicted both people who were for teaching homosexuality in school and the people who were opposed to teaching it. Children who had gay or lesbian parents were interviewed and discussed how their peers responded to them.
There was no opposition during the showing and Cohen said that he hadn’t heard of any opposition to the film before it was viewed.
Lisa Bruce, assistant director of Orientation Programs, viewed the film for the first time the night it was shown and liked it. She said the issue is critically important and it helped educators see how the topic might be addressed.
Bruce and Mockford held a discussion with the audience before the film was shown. They asked questions regarding how children might respond to the topic of homosexuality and who or where children might learn it from.
Many audience members said children learn through media influence, their parents or through church or other religious affiliations.
Bruce and Mockford held another discussion after the film and asked audience members what they thought of the film.
Some people responded that they were surprised by what the children and the teachers said. Audience members were impressed with the willingness to accept homosexuality in the lower grade levels.
Other topics that came up in the discussion were comments about the wide variety of schools used in the film with perhaps the most accepting school being from San Francisco.
Bruce was amazed at how open the audience was and how good the insights were.
“I was really thrilled,” she said. “They had good comments and conversations.”
Mockford said he didn’t know what to expect but was impressed with the wide range of people that showed up.
Members of the audience included students from ethnic studies classes, students interested in becoming educators, resident advisors and teachers.
“There are a lot of good things in it (the film),” Cohen said. “Anyone can benefit from it.”