Straightlaced Coming to New York!Wednesday 20, May 2009
By Brittney Shepherd, Staff Producer | Straightlaced
New York, NY : The New York City benefit premiere of the new feature-length documentary Straightlaced–How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up, will be held at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College 7:00pm on Tuesday, May 26. Directed by Academy Award winning filmmaker Debra Chasnoff, Straightlaced reveals a culture of intense pressure to conform to gender roles in American high schools. Introducing the film are Jennifer Raab – Hunter College President, Eliza Byard – GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) Executive Director, and Mia Herndon –Third Wave Foundation Executive Director.
Straightlaced is the latest documentary film production from GroundSpark, a non-profit organization that creates visionary films and educational campaigns. The footage makes us privy to frank, unscripted conversations with a diverse group of high school students from around the country who speak candidly about their experiences surrounding the pressure to conform to rigid gender roles and the negative effects of homophobia. Straightlaced comes at an essential time, after two separate bullying-related suicides, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover and Jaheem Herrera, rocked the nation this spring.
In screenings across the country, Straightlaced is igniting national dialogue about gender stereotypes and pressures among youth. Hunter College President Jennifer Raab explains the importance of this dialogue in educational institutions: “Because of Hunter’s history, mission and diverse student population, the college is well situated to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) public policy research with its new LGBT Institute. By sponsoring scholarly pursuits and exploring public issues in new and innovative ways Hunter seeks to expand the dialogue on human rights issues that pertain to LGBT communities. We are proud to host the premiere of Straightlaced.”
Bruce Cohen, the Academy Award winning producer of Milk, attended the film’s LA premiere, and explains that “Watching Straightlaced rekindled both the outrage and the hope that came with bringing Harvey Milk’s story to the screen. This new documentary provides a forum for young people to speak eloquently about the courage it takes to break out of the box and stand up for justice. I think Harvey would have loved it and wanted it in schools across the country.”
From girls who dumb down so they don’t intimidate boys, to boys who are sexually active just to prove they aren’t gay, to non-conforming teens who face relentless bullying, the students in Straightlaced show how gender expectations often have an unhealthy and dangerous impact their lives. One youth said being called gay was the “ultimate insult.”
“No matter where we filmed, students jumped at the opportunity to speak their mind about this very taboo subject,” says Chasnoff, who is also GroundSpark’s Executive Director. “It was shocking to hear that the same pressures that led to the recent suicides, and the murder of Lawrence King are being intensely felt by all students, all day, every day.”
Straightlaced will be presented in every state as well as in film festivals and symposia worldwide. The film will also be coupled with an educational curriculum and professional development series to provide educators with the tools to address stereotypes and harassment in their classrooms.
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For a trailer of Straightlaced and a schedule of screenings across the country, click here. Debra Chasnoff and many of the teens featured in Straightlaced are available for interviews. Requests should be sent to the contact listed above.
GroundSpark creates visionary films and dynamic education campaigns that move individuals and communities to take action for a more just world. Other films include Deadly Deception which won the 1991 Academy Award® for Best Documentary, It’s Elementary – Talking About Gay Issues in School which swept the nation as the first film to advocate talking to young children about lesbian and gay people, and Let’s Get Real, the documentary used in bullying prevention programs in thousands of schools across the country.
Debra Chasnoff is an Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work has fueled progressive social-change movements in many fields. She is the Executive Director at GroundSpark and co-creator of The Respect For All Project, a program that produces media and training resources to help prevent prejudice among young people. She is an experienced spokesperson and has appeared on programs from CNN’s Situation Room to NPR’s Bryant Park Project.