Film about kids and gay tolerance sets off controversy
April 5, 1999
From Correspondent Don Knapp
SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- A movie about schoolchildren talking about homosexuality is set to air on public broadcasting stations this summer, but not if some conservative groups get their way.
The film, "It's Elementary" by Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Debra Chasnoff, suggests ways teachers can talk to students about homosexuality.
The Chicago public school system already has said it will use the film for teacher training.
"The most common way children harass each other and put each other down is by using anti-gay epithets," said Chasnoff. "And unfortunately, most of the staff at those schools don't do anything."
But some conservative groups have launched a campaign to keep the movie off public television. Two movies, including one produced by Coral Ridge Ministries, ask people to put pressure on their public television stations so they won't broadcast Chasnoff's film.
"You're looking at a textbook case for propaganda: manipulation, indoctrination, use of authority figures, peer pressure," said Janet Folger of Coral Ridge Ministries. "The desired goal of the video is to say that homosexuality is good and those that disagree are bad."
San Francisco public television station KQED said it has yet to hear from other stations on whether they want to air the program.
"This is really at the heart of our mission -- it's to celebrate diversity, to really underscore the importance of human dignity and human rights," Mary Bitterman, president and CEO of KQED Television, said.
Chasnoff won an Academy Award for her documentary on another controversial subject: nuclear weapons.
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