Warning: "continue" targeting switch is equivalent to "break". Did you mean to use "continue 2"? in /nfs/c08/h04/mnt/126524/domains/groundspark.org/html/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/common.php on line 1267

Warning: "continue" targeting switch is equivalent to "break". Did you mean to use "continue 2"? in /nfs/c08/h04/mnt/126524/domains/groundspark.org/html/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/common.php on line 1304

Warning: "continue" targeting switch is equivalent to "break". Did you mean to use "continue 2"? in /nfs/c08/h04/mnt/126524/domains/groundspark.org/html/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/common.php on line 1308

Warning: "continue" targeting switch is equivalent to "break". Did you mean to use "continue 2"? in /nfs/c08/h04/mnt/126524/domains/groundspark.org/html/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/common.php on line 1336

Warning: "continue" targeting switch is equivalent to "break". Did you mean to use "continue 2"? in /nfs/c08/h04/mnt/126524/domains/groundspark.org/html/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/common.php on line 3456

Warning: "continue" targeting switch is equivalent to "break". Did you mean to use "continue 2"? in /nfs/c08/h04/mnt/126524/domains/groundspark.org/html/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/common.php on line 3463

Warning: "continue" targeting switch is equivalent to "break". Did you mean to use "continue 2"? in /nfs/c08/h04/mnt/126524/domains/groundspark.org/html/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/common.php on line 3476

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /nfs/c08/h04/mnt/126524/domains/groundspark.org/html/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/common.php:1267) in /nfs/c08/h04/mnt/126524/domains/groundspark.org/html/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/wp-cache-phase2.php on line 62
Groundspark » Debra Chasnoff, President/Senior Producer

Author Archive

What Teachers Really Thought After Our Day With Them



By | Latest News, LGBT, Professional Development, Respect For All Project, Straightlaced

Serian finger up

I am reading the evaluations from the day-long professional development days GroundSpark conducted two weeks ago for the Jefferson Union High School District, which serves the cities of Daly City, Brisbane, Pacifica, and Colma in Northern California. And I’m thinking of you.

Why? Because it’s thanks to the generosity of you and the rest of the GroundSpark community that we are able to provide this kind of in-depth support to teachers, guidance counselors and administrators. Together, we are helping schools to better address gender pressures, support students whose gender idenity is in flux, and prevent homophobic harassment.

I hope you are as proud and moved as I am to read the feedback from these two days!

Jefferson training feedback adjusted

 Because of you, teachers in the district now have enough copies of Straightlaced—How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up to use with all of their students.

But even more importantly, they left the GroundSpark training much better equipped to be better allies to their students, and to support their colleagues to do the same.

I invite you to renew your support of GroundSpark this holiday season with a gift of any amount. Let’s do whatever we can to help make sure teachers in more school districts are able to have this same opportunity

Partnering to Prevent Bullying at School



By | Let's Get Real, Respect For All Project

GS_welcomingschools

To start the new school year, GroundSpark is partnering with the Human Rights Campaign‘s “Welcoming Schools” project to help parents and guardians use award-winning anti-bullying films at their children’s schools!

Featuring GroundSpark’s acclaimed half hour documentary, Let’s Get Real, plus Welcoming Schools’ short, What Can We Do? Bias, Bullying, and Bystanders, our comprehensive new screening kit is a way for parents and guardians to come together to talk with school staff about promoting respect, supporting diversity, and cultivating ally behavior.

“Addressing bias-based bullying takes a whole-school approach, including PTO’s, PTA’s, and parents/guardians,” said Johanna Eager, Welcoming Schools Director. “As such, we are excited to partner with GroundSpark to provide a much-needed resource for any parent to organize an event to engage thoughtful discussion centered on creating safe and welcoming schools for all students and families in the school community.”

Through this partnership we’re able to provide a free second film with the purchase of Let’s Get Real, plus a special event planning guide and screening facilitation materials to support parents wanting to launch into dialogue about the dynamics at their own child’s school. Ideally, parents would work with their PTA to schedule screenings and discussion for the adults in their school communities, about how to best support the school staff’s work with students.

“We strongly believe that parents and guardians are the third leg of the stool that must be engaged in order to have a safe school learning environment,” says GroundSpark president and film director Debra Chasnoff. “This program and partnership with Welcoming Schools will help strengthen any school’s work with staff and students. We’ve made it very easy for any group of parents to turn their interest and concern into action.”

Part of GroundSpark’s Respect for All Project, Let’s Get Real gives young people the chance to tell their stories in their own words and includes an accompanying teaching guide which encourages schools to address important questions, including how bullying intersects with factors like race, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, economic status, religion, country of origin, and physical or learning abilities. Meanwhile, Welcoming SchoolsWhat Can We Do? short shows teachers engaging elementary school students in conversations about bullying and bias.

PTOs, PTAs, after-school programs and community youth groups are all invited to be a part of this national effort to open up discussion and take action to prevent bias-related bullying at school.

Learn more about the campaign and how to get involved here!

Streaming Straightlaced for Ally Week



By | Choosing Children, Straightlaced

 

bannerAllyWeek2015

Calling all allies! GroundSpark is gearing up for this year’s Ally Week, September 28 – October 2, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network‘s (GLSEN) national week of action to identify new allies to LGBT youth, by once again offering free streaming of our award-winning documentary, Straightlaced—How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up.

We are starting this week so that teachers can preview the film for free and then order a classroom streaming license or DVD to use at their schools in time for Ally Week.

Check out the trailer for the film and then click here to sign up for your free preview stream. When you’re ready to order Straightlaceduse the code AWGS15 to get 50% off!

Each DVD set also comes with a free, 165 page curriculum guide on how to use the film to open up critical classroom discussions for middle, high school, and college students about the gender binary, homophobia, dating pressures, and much more.

The activities in the guide are correlated to National Sexuality Education Core Curriculum standards as well.

During Ally Week, participants across the country will consider what they can do to become an even better ally to another person, or group of people. Straightlaced, which explores the pressures that ALL teens face when it comes to dealing with gender norms and sexuality, is the perfect tool for sparking dialogue and community action around these issues.

GroundSpark Partners with SF Jewish Film Fest to Take Action



By | Latest News

SFJFF35

We’re thrilled to announce that GroundSpark will be on the ground at this year’s San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF), as part of the festival’s Take Action Day!

On July 31st, at the Castro Theatre, GS president/senior producer Debra Chasnoff will moderate a special panel, “Taking a Stand,” featuring four festival documentary filmmakers in conversation around activist filmmaking, Jewish identity, empowerment and community engagement. Debra also will be involved throughout the day on the 31st, interviewing filmmakers and sharing ideas about how to take action on the issues covered in the day’s line up of films.

Now in its 35th year, the SFJFF is the oldest and largest Jewish Film Festival in the world. GroundSpark is honored to be a part of such a prestigous event and for the opportunity to further ignite change through film.

Learn more about the FREE panel for Take Action Day here! You can also purchase a special “Take Action Pass” to watch all the films on the 31st, or buy individual tickets here.

Teaching Sex Ed Just Got Easier



By | Latest News

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 10.25.38 AM

Each year, in classrooms around the country, teachers of all kinds are tasked with implementing the National Sexuality Education Standards – a list of seven learning objectives established by leading health officials, researchers and educators in 2011. Yet many of those educators continue to struggle to find engaging and effective tools to teach what can often feel like a complicated topic.

That’s where Straightlaced comes in.

“One thing that continues to impress us about Straightlaced and the accompanying curriculum is that there is nothing else like it out there. We can’t think of anyone else who is addressing gender in such a meaningful way with young people. And gender must be addressed if we’re going to make real change when it comes to dealing with sexism, homophobia and transphobia.”
– Lucinda Holt, Director of Communications, Answer, the national sexual education training organization

In an increasingly diverse world, where harassment, bullying and relationship violence are all too common experiences for high schoolers, teachers need to be ahead of the curve when it comes to discussing gender and sexuality. So we’ve aligned our award-winning documentary film-based curriculum and resource Guide with the national sex ed standards, to make it easier for high school educators to engage their students!

“We believe firmly, as these standards outline, that addressing the constraints of gender norms will help all students live healthier lives.” said Debra Chasnoff, founder of GroundSpark. “Aligning Straightlaced with these standards is about working towards achieving that goal.”

Through our alignment we’ve outlined the specific activities, video clips and lesson plans that can be used to meet the requirements for various grade levels. And because everything connects to our award-winning youth-focused film, we know these interactive lessons are especially likely to resonate with teenagers.

We also know that we can’t afford to wait any longer to implement these ideas and improve sexuality education.

According to a 2011 Dove study, 72% of teen girls feel enormous pressure to live up to society’s beauty ideals. While the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network reports that 85% of LGBT youth in the U.S. are verbally harassed at school each year. These factors can lead to diminished self-esteem, absenteeism and lower grades.

GroundSpark is committed to improving school environments for youth everywhere, and our Straightlaced Curriculum and Resource Guide, now aligned with the National Sexuality Education Standards, is a powerful tool to help us all create safer, more inclusive classrooms.

Download the guidelines here.

groundsparkSTLnew

Joining Forces With Documentary Film “Read Me Differently”



By | Latest News

rmd

GroundSpark is proud to partner with Read Me Differently, an award-winning documentary directed by Sarah Entine, MSW. We’ve just helped Sarah launch the Read Me Differently Initiative, a campaign to spread understanding of how learning disabilities (LD) affect life experiences outside of the classroom.

Read Me Differently is a brave and intimate film that reframes how we talk about learning disabilities, and through this initiative we are working with Sarah to open up more conversations about the crucial underlying issues reflected in the film.

Read Me Differently makes it patently clear that learning differences are much more than simply ‘academic’ challenges,” says GroundSpark’s president, Debra Chasnoff. “We’re honored to be partnering with Sarah Entine to bring more attention to the social, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of grappling with LD as well.”

We are working with organizations involved in education, parenting support, mental health and social service fields to transform this conversation. The Read Me Differently Initiative lays out six core beliefs – ranging from the importance of widespread awareness to the value of social-emotional learning – that can help families, educators, and service providers understand LD beyond their potential impact at school.

RMD5

The RMD Initiative recommends action steps that organizations and individuals can take to further this vision, including calling on all family members to obtain the education and training to understand how LD affects the family system, and encouraging teachers to be better trained to deal with the spectrum of LD their students may have. 

Over the past 20 years, GroundSpark has pioneered a long-term social change strategy that pairs documentary film distribution with political and community organizing and professional development on how to use their films to make a difference.

“This is one of the first times GroundSpark has brought its experience of harnessing the power of documentary films to ignite change to work on behalf of an outside producer. I’m very excited to have GroundSpark by my side as an organizing partner.”
– Sarah Entine, MSW, Director of Read Me Differently

Learn more about the Read Me Differently Initiative here.

Partnering with SOJOURN to Bring Respect For All to the Southeast



By | It's Elementary, Let's Get Real, LGBT, Respect For All Project, Screenings, Straightlaced, That's A Family!

sojourn
We’re headed down south to help transform community conversations from Atlanta to Birmingham!

Joining forces with the Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity (SOJOURN), GroundSpark will help bring powerful new educational programming to communities across the Southeastern United States later this month, centered on our award-winning Respect for All documentary series.

“GroundSpark’s films are the perfect complement to the work that SOJOURN does throughout the Southeast. They tackle issues surrounding gender normativity and identity, homophobia, and family relationships in a real, down-to-earth way,” says Rebecca Stapel-Wax, executive director of SOJOURN. “Each documentary features children and teens who are living these experiences daily.”

SOJOURN, who seek to promote increased understanding and acceptance of individuals across the spectrum of gender and sexual orientation, will lead inspiring conversations and lesson plans around four of our films – Let’s Get Real, Straightlaced – How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up, That’s A Family!, and It’s Elementary—Talking About Gay Issues in School – from February 21st to the 23rd, in public school districts, independent schools, and Jewish community organizations.

“We are thrilled to be able to reach new audiences in the south through this partnership with SOJOURN,” says GroundSpark’s president and senior producer, Debra Chasnoff. “There is exciting work happening now in Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama to support all students to be their best, fullest selves. We are honored that our films, curricula, and professional development programs will be utilized to expand that work even further.”

This transformative partnership is made possible through a grant from the Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis Fund. For more information and to register for these events and programs, please see GroundSpark’s events calendar!

Free Streaming for No Name-Calling Week



By | blog, It's Elementary, It's STILL Elementary, Let's Get Real, Straightlaced, That's A Family!

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 8.08.40 AM

For the last ten years, Groundspark has proudly partnered with the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) for No Name-Calling Week, a week dedicated to celebrating kindness and working to create safe schools free of name-calling, bullying and bias. In recognition of this powerful decade-long commitment, we’re offering FREE STREAMING of all of our Respect for All Project films during the entire month of January!

Click here to sign-up. 

Our free streams allow you to preview award-winning films challenging limiting social norms and prejudice, like Straightlaced, Let’s Get RealIt’s ElementaryIt’s Still Elementary and That’s a Family!  We’re also offering a 25% discount on the full-quality DVD or educational stream licenses of these films throughout the month (Use discount code NNCW15 when you place your order).

Whether you’re an educator, student, or any other kind of school leader, these films offer an excellent resource for organizing transformative events in your community during No Name-Calling Week, January 19th to the 23rd, and beyond.

“GLSEN and GroundSpark are long-time partners in promoting respect for all in our schools. This year, we are excited to announce an expanded partnership for GLSEN’s No Name-Calling Week, giving educators and students free streaming access to all of GroundSpark’s Respect for All Films for the month of January. GLSEN connects teachers and students with the tools they need to make a difference, and when used leading up to and during No Name-Calling Week, these powerful films can help foster respectful dialogue around issues of bias and bullying.”
                                                          –Eliza Byard, Executive Director, GLSEN

Help us spread the word about this amazing opportunity! Share the news on Facebook and Twitter.

Together we can expand this inspiring tradition and continue to work towards ending name-calling and bullying in our schools!

The First Bay Area Respect for All Project Institute!



By | blog, Professional Development, Respect For All Project

eileen-seriancopy.114103

As 2014 came to a close, breaking news heightened many people’s awareness of how important it is for educators to find compelling strategies to address diversity and school safety issues.

Across the country there is a much greater concern about racial stereotyping by police. And tragically we saw the suicide of 12-year old Ronin Shimizu in Folsom, CA, presumably because he couldn’t take the bullying he was targeted with because he was a young male cheerleader.

GroundSpark is kicking off the new year by offering resources and support that can truly make a difference.

Please join us for a special two-day intensive Bay Area Respect For All Project Institute, February 6th and 7th. It’s designed for those who work with youth to become more confident, skilled facilitators of social change dialogue and activism in their schools and communities.

Sign up today, and share with your colleagues or other networks!

 

Reporting Back From China!



By | Deadly Deception, Let's Get Real, Respect For All Project, Screenings, Straightlaced

classphoto“Tell us about those plots of farmland in front of those old buildings,” I asked the two journalism students who picked us up at the airport in Shantou, China.

“The farmers had a protest against the government because the government plans to take away the land to put up new buildings,” one of them said. “One of our classmates went down to write a story about it, but the police came and took him away to be ‘re-educated’. Then they told our teachers, who announced to our classes that none of us could go near the farmers or we, too, would be taken by the police.”

And so began my weeklong visit to Shantou University as a special guest of the journalism department, along with journalist and historian Helen Zia, and my wife, Nancy Otto. The three of us were very warmly received during our stay, and the students were very excited to engage with us on a wide range of issues.girl-peaceI spent time with several journalism classes and one gender studies class. The students all had started studying English when they were in elementary school and I was quickly humbled by how well they were able to communicate with me given my complete lack of Chinese language skills.

 

As they watched Let’s Get Real and That’s a Family!, students were puzzled about some things, that in the US, we often just assume. “I thought America had a very strong value for equality for everyone and freedom,” one student asked me. “So I don’t understand why is there bullying?” “Why would anyone tell their child that they were adopted?” queried another. “In China, we would never tell a child that.”

poster
It was fascinating to hear, from first-year students that “there was no bullying in China,” but then in the advanced class, to hear stories pour out about taunting and harassment students had either experienced directly or witnessed among their friends.

Many were intrigued to hear about gay and lesbian couples that had become parents (including many oohs and ahs when I showed a picture of my own family). But when we met with the “Orange Community,” a group not labeled LGBT but one where students knew they could go to talk about gay issues, they told us that it would be impossible for gay people to become parents. That’s because China has a one-child policy that favors married couples (and marriage is not legal between people of the same sex). Anyone who is a single parent by choice or “mistake” is fined the equivalent of one year of salary and charged a much higher tuition for her child to attend school.

On two nights the journalism department had organized large campus-wide events. The first one focused on taking a critical look at the United States: Helen showed excerpts from Who Killed Vincent Chin?, a documentary that chronicles the civil rights questions connected to the 1982 murder of an Asian American man; I showed GroundSpark’s Academy Award winning film, Deadly Deception, which lamblasts the US military industrial complex and the disastrous environmental practices of many major corporations. Both films are crafted to inspire audiences to organize and take action for social justice.

After our sobering arrival story about the student who tried to report on a local demonstration, I wasn’t sure how our night of political organizing 101 would be received. So I was delighted when the students peppered us with questions about equality and environmental protection issues in China. Over and over they asked, “How should we think about these issues here?”

The next night the topic was gender norms, marriage equality, and LGBT identity. Helen showed a Chinese news broadcast covering her own marriage to her partner, Lia, and her testimony in one of the phases of the legal battle to overturn Prop 8 in California. I showed excerpts from Straightlaced—How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up. Ching-Ching Ni, the professor who had invited us, told us it was the first time a public lecture had ever been held at Shantou University that addressed LGBT issues—and quite possibly at any Chinese university.

While I have shown Straightlaced to enthusiastic audiences in countless settings, I don’t think I have ever seen an audience as utterly rapt as this one in Shantou. Afterwards the students popped up across the auditorium to share their own concerns, fears, and questions connected to tto the themes in Straightlaced, painting a rich picture for us of where teen/young adult culture in China is falling today.

“I am the only girl to go to the gym to lift weights and everyone makes fun of me”; “Aren’t gay people the reason there is a population decline in the west?”; and most touchingly, “I think I might be lesbian. How do you know if you are a lesbian?”

I wish GroundSpark’s generous network of supporters could have all been in these lecture halls and classrooms with us. I know you would have been as proud as we were that our films were once again igniting change, this time in China.

Thank you for standing with us and for renewing your support this year. And a big thanks to Helen Zia and Ching-Ching Ni for creating this special opportunity!