Groundspark celebrates 10th anniversary of release of Groundspark film It’s Elementary

San Francisco, CA, October 1, 2007 …GroundSpark – formerly Women’s Educational Media – today announced events celebrating the 10th anniversary and upcoming re-release on DVD of It’s Elementary—Talking About Gay Issues in School. The groundbreaking documentary was the first film to show how elementary and middle school teachers can facilitate age-appropriate classroom discussions that include awareness about gay and lesbian people. The DVD re-released version of the film is accompanied by a new documentary, It’s STILL Elementary, that features follow-up interviews with some of the original participants, as well as with educators, activists and the film’s production team who discuss the political and cultural reaction to and impact of the original release of the film. GroundSpark will hold screenings of It’s STILL Elementary in New York on Thursday, October 18th, San Francisco on Thursday, October 25th, and Washington, DC, on November 28th, 2007.

It’s Elementary has helped countless educators and parents think about their role in helping to prevent young people from growing up with prejudice toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Rather than focusing on political differences on this issue among adults, the film takes the point of view of children and features them discussing the information and the misinformation that they have absorbed about what it means to be gay or lesbian.

Since its initial release, It’s Elementary has won numerous awards, as well as widespread acclaim from parents, educators, policymakers, and religious leaders. It has been shown to faculty in thousands of schools across the country and around the world, from Alaska to Florida and from Tokyo to Warsaw. The film is widely credited for helping to ignite the national “safe schools” movement, contributing to the growth in the number of gay-straight alliance groups in schools and the increase in the number of K-12 schools with inclusive non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.

The follow-up documentary, It’s STILL Elementary, presents fascinating “where are they now?” interviews with students from the original film, along with commentary from the filmmakers and other educators and leaders who look back at the political backlash the original film received and at the tremendous impact it has had on the American educational system. Paired with the DVD is a newly produced, comprehensive 80-page curriculum guide for educators, which includes lesson plans on how to incorporate LGBT curricula in classrooms.

“When the film was first released a decade ago, It’s Elementary helped spark a movement to make schools safer places for all children to discuss lesbian and gay people in age-appropriate ways,” said GroundSpark Executive Director and Academy Award®-winning documentary filmmaker Debra Chasnoff. “Homophobia hurts all children: one only has to consider the consistently homophobic content of bullying in schools today to realize that this film is more relevant than ever. All of us at GroundSpark are excited to introduce It’s Elementary and its companion documentary, It’s STILL Elementary to a new generation of educators,” Chasnoff continued.

Earlier this year, GroundSpark found itself in the midst of controversy in Evesham Township, NJ. A group of highly vocal parents objected to another GroundSpark film, That’s a Family!, which features children talking about their diverse family structures, including families with divorced and single parents, multi-racial families, families whose children were adopted, and families with lesbian and gay parents. Despite a unanimous recommendation from its own review committee of professional educators, counselors and PTA representatives that the film remain part of the elementary school curriculum, the Evesham Township School Board voted to suspend the film’s use in response to political pressure and intimidation by the minority opposition.

“Fear and ignorance about addressing diversity with children – especially related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people – is alive and well,” commented Chasnoff. “The films that are part of our Respect For All Project, such as That’s a Family!, were created in response to the extraordinary impact that It’s Elementary received after its initial release. The goal of GroundSpark’s Respect For All Project is to help create schools and communities where all children feel welcome and safe. The unfortunate recent events in New Jersey demonstrate that our work is as relevant and necessary as ever,” concluded Chasnoff.

GroundSpark creates visionary films and dynamic education campaigns that move individuals and communities to take action for a more just world.

The Respect For All Project, a program of GroundSpark, facilitates the development of inclusive schools and communities that are free from bias and prejudice by providing resources, support and training to educators and youth service providers.