Archive for the ‘Straightlaced’ Category

Here’s Why Teachers Are Talking About Gender & Sexuality



By | Straightlaced

Teachers are inspired and motivated by our Straightlaced Gender and Sexuality Training!

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Bring our Straightlaced training to your school

Do you want to see more education and activities about gender and sexuality in your school community? GroundSpark’s customized trainings address pressing educational and social issues related to gender, sexuality, and race in an engaging way, bridging the divide between information and action. Since 2003, we have trained more than 15,000 people from schools, school districts, health service organizations, after school programs, universities, and community initiatives throughout the country.

Learn More

Hear it from the Teachers:

Feedback from participants at our February 2016 districtwide training for San Diego Unified School District.

“I want to weave Straightlaced and Let’s Get Real (film & curriculum) into the 10th grade Sexuality Education Curriculum.”

“I appreciated the honest discussion in the video and outside the video that explored the variance in gender identity and gender expression.”

“Overall a very impactful training! The trainers created an open and inclusive environment by revealing their own personal stories, which set the stage for participants to share their ideas and experiences more freely. They also led interactive and engaging activities which prepared the participants for viewing Straightlaced with greater empathy and understanding of the students in the film. Whether shown in a large group setting, small classroom environment, or a staff meeting, we are confident that Straightlaced—How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up will make our students feel safe and supported district-wide.”

– Rachel Miller, M.Ed., Program Coordinator/Resource Teacher, San Diego Unified School District

A Peek Inside Our Straightlaced Training for the San Diego Unified School District

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In February, Groundspark trainers Serian Strauss and Eileen Nathanson traveled to San Diego to provide a two day training on creating an inclusive schools climate, with a particular focus on addressing issues related to gender identity and expression. Attendees ranged from school guidance counselors, to math and science teachers, to community advocates working on behalf of LGBTQ youth.

Teachers raved about the useful tools they took away from the training and appreciated the opportunity to connect with other educators who share their commitment to address these issues.

San Diego Unified Schools are part of a national cohort funded by the Center for Disease Control to increase efforts to support LGBTQ students and combat bias in schools. The training came about because of GroundSpark’s partnership with Gay Straight Alliance Network.

Contact us to Discuss your District’s Training Needs

Four Victories You Can Celebrate



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

“I’m ready for 2015 to end!” Have you been thinking that? Some days, I do too. But I want to remind you of four fantastic things that happened this year—in small part because of GroundSpark’s culture changing work—and because of your support.

When we started our Respect for All Project 20 years ago, the idea that marriage equality would become the law of the land wasn’t even a pipedream. So, at the time, it was stunning when we filmed fourth graders for It’s Elementary—Talking About Gay Issues in School having a reasonable classroom discussion about whether or not gay people should be allowed to marry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=EH5gfqC8V6g&feature=youtu.be

THIS YEAR, the Supreme Court finally settled the debate the students are having in this scene!

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What’s more, the number of colleges of education ordering educational streaming licenses for It’s Elementary continued to grow—which means the next generation of K-12 teachers is learning how to support their students to develop critical thinking skills and a passion for justice.

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Fifteen years ago, when we produced a film that modeled how to talk to children about all different kinds of family structures—including those with gay or lesbian parents, it was still illegal for gay people to adopt children in many states. No wonder That’s a Family!struck a nerve in school district after school district.

<<< (Click to watch trailer) 

 

 

THIS YEAR, couples in Mississippi, the last state in the country that still bans gay couples from adopting, filed suit to challenge that law. It’s gratifying to see schools in more conservative areas coming around to use That’s a Family! Now they really have no excuse but to be inclusive of all different kinds of families.

When we were making Let’s Get Real, our documentary about bias-based bullying, I remember people scoffing. “That’s just the way kids are. And that’s the way it will always be.” Only a handful of states had any laws or policies addressing the bullying epidemic.

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THIS YEAR, Montana finally became the 50th state to get on board. It has become completely unacceptable for schools to ignore this issue any more. And GroundSpark launched a new campaign to reach out to PTAs to use Let’s Get Real to help parents and guardians understand what they can do to help the climate at their children’s schools.

When we were filming Straightlaced—How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up, one of the gay students in the film talked about how, by appearing on camera, he was putting his Eagle Scout award at risk because the Boy Scouts had a ban on gay members and troop leaders.

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THIS YEAR, the Boy Scouts finally dropped the ban, something we could barely even hope for when we made the film! And hundreds of teachers took advantage of the Straightlaced free streaming for Ally Week and No Name Calling week that GroundSpark provided with the help of our donors.

As 2015 comes to a close, let’s honor these victories. Please take a minute to renew your support to GroundSpark with as generous a gift as you can. You can help insure that we will be able to ignite change with film just as successfully in 2016.

What Teachers Really Thought After Our Day With Them



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

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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!

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 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

Streaming Straightlaced for Ally Week



By | Choosing Children, Straightlaced

 

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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.

Back to Basics in Atlanta!



By | Straightlaced

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As part of our swing through the South, 35 professionals serving the Jewish community in Atlanta gathered with us to watch portions of Straightlaced – How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up and to learn about how to create more inclusive and welcoming communities for young people of all genders. Some of the attendees were already familiar with the concepts presented, but for many of them, the idea that rigid gender boxes are harmful and limiting for all people – whether they fit in the gender boxes or not – was new.

To best meet the needs of the audience, my co-facilitator, Serian Strauss, and I went back to basics – establishing common vocabulary. We defined the difference between “sex” and “gender” – sex as assigned to each of us at birth and the gender identity that we develop over a lifetime that is greatly impacted by society. Many participants were intrigued by the idea that these two may or may not be congruent, and in different ways for each of us.

We led the “Act Like a Boy” activity from the Respect for All Project curriculum guides to raise awareness about the ways that young people are often confined by gender boxes. The audience identified the ways that boys are expected to be “bread-winners,” “be tough,” and “be handy.” We then explored what names boys are called if they don’t fit in the box. Some audience members were accustomed to these words and were moved to learn how harmful the words can be, and how oppressive they are for all boys – not just the ones that don’t conform to gender norms.

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All of the participants explored how they themselves do and don’t fit gender norms and began to consider how to break down the gender binary that is reinforced over and over for kids in their preschool programs, sports programs and faith contexts. One preschool administrator realized that her school’s intake forms only include marital status checkboxes for heterosexual parents, and strategized with us about how to improve her forms. We explored the purpose of the intake form: it was a way for teachers to understand and know about the home life of their students, and suggested an open-ended question – such as “Please share with us who lives in your household,” “Who is in your family?” and “Is there anything else you would like us to know about your family?” She concluded that these kinds of questions would even better serve the intended purpose of the forms!

As we find time and again, inclusion benefits a wider range of people than might be originally expected. In this case, making space for lesbian and gay headed families, also addresses the needs of other family forms – such as a divorced mother. How much better it would be for her to be able to describe her family in positive terms, instead of having to check the “Divorced” box as a way of describing herself, right at the start of her child’s preschool experience! The participants also asked questions about how to address the values of more conservative people of faith who maintain a stricter division between the sexes. These questions were handled by staff from our partner organization SOJOURN (Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity) Rebecca Stapel-Wax and Robbie Medwed, who are working to build bridges and guide Jewish communities towards a more open and inclusive approach.

This event was part of a series of programs that GroundSpark organized with SOJOURN, with funding from the Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis Fund and our other generous supporters.

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!

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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!

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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!

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.”

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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!

2014 Ally Week – Oct 13 to 17



By | blog, Straightlaced

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Monday marks the beginning of Ally Week, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) national week of action to identify new allies to LGBT youth, and a chance for us all to reflect on our own role in the movement for equality. In recognition of this week-long campaign, Groundspark is proud to partner with GLSEN to offer free streaming of our award-winning documentary, Straightlaced—How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up, from October 13th through the 17th!

Click here to sign up for your free stream

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.

twitter Starting Monday, join us in using #BetterAllies and #AllyWeek on Twitter to spread the word about the free stream and to share how you’re committing to allyship!

GLSEN’s Ally Week pushes us to reflect on how we can all use our privilege to move the safe schools movement forward, and a reminder that being an ally to LGBT youth isn’t just something to be proud of, but a lifelong responsibility to speak up more, intervene more, and demand equality for all.

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These Pros Were Happy to Give Up Their Saturday. We would love to make you happy on your day off too!



By | Professional Development, Straightlaced

eileen-and-trainees-webOn a beautiful sunny Saturday, forty professionals showed up to watch Straightlaced—How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up and learn strategies for how to open up conversations about gender and sexuality with their students. They came from 10 counties and wore many different hats: foster care program coordinator, health education specialist, teacher and director of curriculum and culture, nurse practitioner, director of diversity and inclusion, social emotional counselor.  Some came to deepen their expertise; some had never had any professional development before about these topics and many had previously avoided addressing these sensitive issues with youth.

Immediately GroundSpark facilitators Serian Strauss and Eileen Glaser set the tone for the day. This was going to be a safe place to practice talking about tough issues.  Everyone would leave with a concrete action plans. And,  we were going to have fun!

trainee2-dancing-webFor six hours the group examined the messages that young people receive about how to act, think, look, love, and learn—depending on their gender and culture. Using the stories of the real high school students in Straightlaced, they then learned and shared ways to support the youth they work with who are going through the same kinds of things. They practiced how to handle difficult scenarios on the fly—like hearing homophobic language in the hallways or talking with colleagues who are uncomfortable with a transgender student. Finally each person brought all the resources and learning together by sketching out personal action plans that made sense for their workplace…not to mention a great Thai food buffet for lunch!

I showed up at the end to say hello and was heartened to see so many glowing faces.  As we handed out Straightlaced DVDs, curriculum guides, and movie posters to participants on their way out, they were effusive:

” I would love for any day of professional development to be even 50% as enriching as the conversations led today!”

” I so appreciated your care, inclusiveness and organization. You created a safe space that modeled a wonderful example for us as educators.”

“Now I have a structure for how I will start, as well as a deeper understanding of the race/gender expression issue.”

“Serian and Eileen did an amazing job facilitating a multi-layered, sometimes difficult topic.”

GroundSpark was able to provide this free training thanks to generous funding from the San Francisco Foundation. Now we are looking for opportunities to bring this kind of professional development program to other areas in the country. If you are connected to a funder or organization that could host this kind of professional development, please get in touch with our education program coordinator, Eileen Glaser, at eglaser@groundspark.org!

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We would love to make you happy on your day off too!