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It's Elementary - Talking About Gay Issues in School

by Debra Chasnoff, Helen S. Cohen

All kids are affected by anti-gay prejudice, and all adults have the ability and responsibility to address it.

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It's Elementary takes cameras into classrooms across the U.S. to look at one of today's most controversial issues - whether and how gay issues should be discussed in schools. It features elementary and middle schools where (mainly heterosexual) teachers are challenging the prevailing political climate and its attempt to censor any dialogue in schools about gay people.

Rather than focusing on the debate between adults, though, the film takes the point of view of the school children, starting as young as first grade. The results are surprising and, as the LA Reader says, "funny, touching, and fascinating." Third graders' jaws drop when they find out some of their favorite celebrities are gay; second graders react to a book about a girl who gets teased because she has two moms; fourth graders say it makes them "feel weird in your stomach" when other kids yell "faggot" on the playground and teachers don't do anything about it; eighth graders fire a barrage of poignant questions to the gay guest speakers who visit their social studies class; third graders passionately debate the current events issue of the day: should gays be allowed to get married? It becomes quite clear that most children are affected by anti-gay prejudice in some way, and that they are very responsive to a curriculum that teaches respect for everyone, including lesbians and gay men.

Former Assistant Secretary of Education, Kevin Jennings, says It's Elementary, with its refreshing child's eye-view of a topic that sends some adult racing to their school boards, "is the most important film dealing with LGBT issues and safe schools ever made."

Comes packaged with It's STILL Elementary. This companion documentary follows up with some of the original students and teachers from It's Elementary and asks them how lessons about LGBT issues affected their lives - and the results are profound. The film also tells the fascinating history of why the original film was made, the infamous response it provoked from the conservative right, and the questions it raises for the national safe schools movement today. 

quoteI preview scores of tapes for our diversity and multicultural training programs and IT'S ELEMENTARY is really the BEST film I can recall. For people who are in the business of educating educators, this is a seminal piece of work.
Ellen Bettmann

quoteIt's Elementary inspires educators to address homophobia and create classrooms where all youth are respected. Should be mandatory for all new teachers if we are serious about raising kids to be free of hate and prejudice.
Judy Shepard, executive director, Matthew Shepard Foundation

quoteBy providing the educational community with IT'S ELEMENTARY, Chasnoff and Cohen have instructors, workshop leaders, facilitators, and social activists one of the most powerful and important resources available for initiating dialogue, encouraging individual self-development, and pushing forth toward educational and social change on a topic that too few have successfully accessibly addressed.
Paul C. Gorski
EdChange Multicultural Pavilion
full review

quote...a sterling production...highly recommended for parents, educators, and other adults.
Sue Ellen Beauregard
full review

quoteIT'S ELEMENTARY does a lot to cool down one of education's hottest potatoes... (it) should be consoling to parents who are eager to raise good-hearted children but who can't imagine how this topic can be addressed in class.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune

More Reviews


  • BEST DOCUMENTARY, San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
  • SILVER APPLE National Educational Media Market
  • C.I.N.E. Golden Eagle Award
  • JUROR'S CHOICE AWARD, Charlotte Film Festival
  • BEST EDUCATIONAL FILM, Northern Lights International Film Festival
  • SILVER SPIRE San Francisco International Film Festival
  • Best Documentary, Santa Barbara Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
  • Documentary of the Year, GLAAD Media Awards
  • Audience Award, The Austin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
  • Best Documentary, Chicago Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
  • Best Documentary, Turin, Italy International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Resource Web Sites

appleInformation about the IT'S ELEMENTARY Study Guide

Each DVD comes with an electronic and print version of an extensive curriculum guide that can be easily used by parent advocates, university educators, or K-12 educators. The guide has been widely hailed as an independent resource that is one of the best in the field.

Resources to Download

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Visit the official website for It's Elementary - Talking About Gay Issues in School

It's Elementary - Talking About Gay Issues in School

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Appropriate for: High School College/University

Special Features:

• original, festival version of It's Elementary (78 minutes)        

• professional development training version (37 minutes)

• companion documentary It's STILL Elementary  

• deleted scenes, trailers from other films in GroundSpark's Respect For All Project, and a downloadable .pdf of the organizing and teaching guide

• closed-captioned, Spanish subtitles and Spanish DVD menus.

All orders, except for public libraries, also receive a hard copy of the highly acclaimed 136-page organizing and teaching guide.

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