Why This Film is Needed
In 1995, we began researching the availability of media resources that address prejudice prevention. We learned that few such resources existed for elementary school-age children, and none addressed anti-gay prejudice in particular.
It’s Elementary was created in response to this void, and to a growing body of research indicating that homophobia poses dangers to the health and safety of all children.
For example, a nationwide survey conducted by the American Association of University Women discovered that the single form of harassment children loathe the most is being called a faggot, sissy or other anti-gay epithets. Fearful of being labeled as gay, both boys and girls succumb to the pressure to stay within the confines of strict gender roles. Many become (hetero) sexually active much earlier than they otherwise would, just to prove to their peers, and themselves, that they are not gay.
It’s not just gay youth or young people who are perceived to be gay and lesbian who are targeted. A 2002 report from the Families and Work Institute titled Youth and Violence: Students Speak Out for a More Civil Society found that two out of three young people surveyed had been victims of teasing at least once during the past month, and nearly half had experienced physical violence.
Not surprisingly, as bullying and violence increase, so does the frequency of hate crimes. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports for 2000 and 2001, reported hate-crime incidents based on sexual orientation rose 9 percent in 2000, more than tripling since 1991.
As awareness about the links between homophobia, school-based violence and hate crimes grows, so does recognition of the tremendous need to dispel stereotypes and promote respect at the earliest possible age, before prejudices become entrenched and harmful. It’s Elementary helps teachers do exactly that.