Reviews, Endorsements and Awards

Straightlaced

From girls confronting popular messages about culture and body image to boys who are sexually active just to prove they aren't gay, the students in Straightlaced illustrate the toll that deeply held stereotypes and rigid gender policing have on all of our lives.

“I cannot overstate how important this documentary is to helping our children and young adults escape violence and find their own ways in life. If I were King of the World I’d have every parent, teacher and teenager in America see this documentary so that as many hearts and minds as possible would find more compassion and understanding, and take more initiative in protecting our young people, our future.”
Don Schwartz, CineSource Magazine

“Straightlaced picks up so many of the themes we are addressing in our own work about gender stereotypes. It sends a powerful message to all of us to let go of rigid, binary understandings of gender and uses a wonderful collection of teens’ experiences and stories to show just how limiting, and liberating, gender can be.”
—Áine Duggan, President, Re:Gender

“A fantastic documentary that highlights youth voices about how gender roles have limited and impacted their lives…one of my favorite resources.”
Elizabeth Meyer, Psychology Today

“Debra Chasnoff’s provocative film…dumps gender assumptions on their hindering head, showing the spectrum of possibilities that these funny, candid, searching teenagers navigate. Join them… even if they ask you to sit in the back.”
—Gail Rosenblum, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Brilliantly illuminates the distorted messages about gender that constrict and sometimes destroy the lives and dreams of high school students across the nation. This documentary is also the most impressive example of ethnography I have seen in 20 years in academia.”
—Margaret Waller, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Humboldt State University

“Forget the outdated sex education videos, Straightlaced is the most powerful of documentaries… It needs to be mandatory viewing for high school students….The message strikes right at the core with no pulled punches or politically correct filtering….Don’t be misled into thinking this is an LGBT-centric documentary. The message here is universal and contagious.”
—Michael Stailey, DVD Verdict

“There are so many layers to understanding gender. The stories in Straightlaced open up a conversation about how gender is impacted by race, class, and sexual orientation,­ a conversation we so need to have. This film is amazing!”
—Mia Herndon, Executive Director, Third Wave Foundation

“Having viewed several other documentaries that are targeted toward the women’s studies classroom,..Straightlaced  [is] well constructed and refreshingly inclusive. The film is as political as it is informative and enjoyable….The filmmakers show an array of identities across the gender spectrum from various standpoints. Standpoint theory is often taught in women’s studies classrooms, and the film provides several examples of this theory.”
Clitha A. Mason and Angela M. Nelson, Films for the Feminist Classroom

“Through the report Implementing Lessons that Matter, we found that LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum is one strategy that can substantially improve safety, engagement, learning, academic achievement, self-esteem, and success in school and beyond. Teachers expressed a need for LGBTQ-inclusive supplemental instructional materials and our study points to Straightlaced—How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up as an outstanding resource. In fact, the school in our study that yielded the most positive results used Straightlaced as one of their implementation tools.”
—Hilary Burdge, Gay Straight Alliance Network Research Program Director

“The young people in this wonderful documentary have given us the gift of their honesty, insight, and hope even within a context of persistent gender conservatism. Their provocative comments stimulate lively classroom discussions and even debates on topics students otherwise find too ‘hot to handle.'”
Arlene Avakian, Professor and Director of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at University of Massachusetts, Amherst

“Watching Straightlaced rekindled both the outrage and the hope that came with bringing Harvey Milk’s story to the screen. This new documentary is a rare gem that provides a forum for young people to speak eloquently about the courage it takes to break out of the box, live authentic lives, and stand up for justice. I think Harvey would be proud of the kids in Straightlaced, and I urge young and old alike to support GroundSpark’s campaign to get this film screened in schools and communities across the country.”
Bruce Cohen, Oscar-winning Producer of MILK

“I have been training groups for over 20 years. The more I do this work on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, the more I realize that is all about GENDER. Straightlaced helps me make that point with both youth and professional adult audiences – it is engaging, provocative, and very telling. It is a great discussion tool! Youth audiences see themselves and their experiences reflected. Adult audiences are stunned to see that the stories haven’t really changed that much over the years… it STILL about gender and how it’s got us all tied up!”
—Robin P. McHaelen, MSW, Executive Director, True Colors, Inc.

“This movie is an amazing testimony, told completely in the voice of young people, of how gender is not binary. Why the full spectrum of gender identity is nothing to fear. A call to action that if we embrace people being exactly who they are that we become stronger rather than weak; we create more love and peace rather than hate and violence.A must see for anyone who has a young person in their lives. This dialogue should be part of every curriculum in school.”
—Whitney Smith, Founder and CEO of Girls For A Change

“A wonderful film to explore gender roles, identity and acceptance with today’s students. Every high school student in America should see it.”
—Maureen Costello, Director for Teaching Tolerance

“Fifty students talk with bracing candor and insight about how they navigate gender, sexuality, peer pressure, and homophobia. The results are sometimes encouraging, sometimes disheartening, but consistently fascinating. An excellent documentary.”
Gary Morris, Bright Lights Film Journal

I used Straightlaced for a class about adolescence. It was great! It provoked some good discussion and really challenged some of my students’ thinking. It was helpful because there were some openly gay students in the class, as well as students who were uncomfortable with LGBTQ students but everyone was able to relate to the students in the film.
—Brian Shevory, graduate extern, Teaching & Learning Center, Temple University

“Powerful….Inspiring…deals with the lives of questioning, intelligent, and courageous young people…. a wonderful exploration of the possibilities being imagined by young people today, and a challenge to the hate and prejudice toward people who are perceived as not conforming to these strict gender and sexual roles.”
Michael Dean Benton, North of Center newspaper, Lexington, KY

“GroundSpark has come out with a new powerful educational documentary in which “gender intensification” is on high display. High school is like a pressure cooker when it comes to fulfilling gender roles. Straightlaced may be the first film to document what life is really like for teens who try to live up to masculine and feminine ideals, want to live up to them, or sometimes simply refuse them altogether.”
Riki Wilchins, True Child Research Institute

“As in Chasnoff’s previous recent works, the film is remarkable for the candor with which its subjects speak – in this case, teens discussing their frustrations with gender roles and stereotypes.”
The San Francisco Chronicle

“Heartfelt, fast-moving and fully multicultural . . . An honest, smart, respectful, and nearly comprehensive treatment of gender in teens’ lives with the potential to inspire nuanced and spirited conversations.”
School Library Journal, starred review

“The teens here are smart, thoughtful, and articulate, and they effectively express a wide range of experiences related to gender issues. Highly recommended. 3.5 stars”
Video Librarian

“It’s devastating how binary labels can privilege some and limit others, and yet these young people have found big and small ways to thumb their noses at convention to express who they are. Straightlaced will provoke and generate thoughtful and serious conversations about gender among anyone — including adults – who watches it.”
—Esther Hurh, M.Ed., Director, Training & Curriculum, Anti-Defamation League

“I used Straightlaced to teach Identity and Ethnic Studies to English Language Learners. It was a class I entered halfway through the year, inheriting a lot of misogyny and homophobia from the lack of community building in the fall. The film worked great; the students loved it, and it led to conversations that totally changed the dynamic. Thank you!”
—Jody Sokolower, Berkeley, CA High School, editor Rethinking Schools

“Honest…eye-opening…invaluable!”
Curve magazine

“All of our employees watched Straightlaced for a professional learning session. The film greatly assisted their understanding of the many facets of human sexual diversity. The ability to connect human faces to issues that far too frequently become the focus of “cerebral” and political discussions made a significant impact.”
Linda Chernenkoff, Assistant Superintendent, Louis Riel School Division, Winnipeg, Canada

“The most important thing in schools is we have to make children feel safe, like their school is ‘su casa,’ their house… and I applaud this film because it actually brings forward the discussions that have to be a part of any community, and any school, if we are really going to treat everybody with dignity and respect… That’s what this movie does. It lifts kids up to make them realize that it’s okay to be who you want to be.”
Carlos Garcia, Superintendent of San Francisco Unified School District

Straightlaced makes an invaluable contribution to our community by helping audiences throughout the country understand how their notions and attitudes about gender can do real damage to young people and to society as a whole. Misogyny, sexism, and gender discrimination are the root cause for so much hostility and prejudice against LGBT people. Straightlaced helps us all come to terms with our fear and discomfort around gender and gender nonconformity and in doing so makes the world safer for all of us.”
—Kate Kendell, Esq., Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights

“Chasnoff’s riveting and often funny documentary sparks dialogue about the effect of homophobia on gender roles in high school and how these issues affect all of us.”
Mary Burbar, The Guilfordian

“Our adults are learning as much as our kids from your films! These terrific films tell it like it is in a straightforward emotionally honest narratives.  They work for all age groups as they simply and beautifully have multicultural kids speaking in their own voices. The viewer can’t help but be impacted and their judgements/stereotypes challenged as they make visual judgements of people and then have them refuted through the narratives. Spectacular, educational in and of themselves, they are also perfect discussion starters. ”
—Amy Cheney, Librarian/Advocate, Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center

“ …a work of huge importance, that is both challenging and accessible.”
London Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

 

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