"It's Elementary" film makers respond to criticism

San Francisco, California -- As America's children went back to school this week, the conservative group Concerned Women for America (CWA) launched another attack on multi-cultural education that it uses to turn schools into battlegrounds. This time the organization has singled out the documentary film, IT'S ELEMENTARY-Talking About Gay Issues in School by Academy Award winner Debra Chasnoff and producer Helen Cohen. The acclaimed movie, filmed in communities across the U.S., looks at how different schools have incorporated an awareness of gay and lesbian issues into their curricula. Intended as a resource for educators and PTAs, the film invites dialogue about the impact of stereotypes and hate violence on elementary-school children. It features predominantly heterosexual teachers, principals, and parents who have found that this kind of inclusive multicultural education is in all students' best interests.

But to CWA, the documentary is part of a "militant homosexual propaganda effort" that is "recruiting a new generation to become homosexuals." IT'S ELEMENTARY should be censored, fumes CWA in its fundraising letter to hundreds of thousands of parents, characterizing the film as an "abomination" and an "unspeakable evil" that shows "just how low homosexual extremists will stoop to ensnare children. CWA's campaign comes on the heels of similar attacks by Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and the Phyllis Schlafly Report.

Chasnoff and Cohen, who are themselves mothers of grade-school children and active members of their own PTAs, say the hysteria of the attack on IT'S ELEMENTARY points to the need for thoughtful discussion before schools are divided by controversy and hate campaigns. "We, too, are concerned women!" says Director Debra Chasnoff. "And the feedback we have been getting from educators and parents across the country is that, in fact, IT'S ELEMENTARY is a highly effective resource for helping schools prevent violence, support all families, and affirm all children so that they can thrive academically."

In response to CWA's censorship campaign, the filmmakers, in conjunction with the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, the national organization working to end anti-gay prejudice in schools, are offering a complimentary copy of IT'S ELEMENTARY to any public school board member or school district superintendent so they can judge the message of the documentary for themselves. "We've repeatedly seen how our film has helped open up the dialogue in hundreds of school communities on an issue that most adults aren't sure how to address," says Producer Helen Cohen. "Administrators and teachers are clamoring for educational resources. We'd hate for any school district to miss out on this opportunity because of the vicious rhetoric from religious conservatives. We invite educational policy makers to look at IT'S ELEMENTARY first before succumbing to censorship."

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