HRC Blog

“Don’t Turn Love Into Hate”

The following post is from Ellen Brodsky, director of Welcoming Schools’ award-winning new professional development film What Do You Know? Six to twelve year olds talk about gays and lesbians.

I am often asked “What differences did you see between the kids from Alabama and those from Massachusetts?” My mind sometimes draws a blank. I think of the students I met. I recall at the end of a long day of pre-interviews, I met a lesbian couple who had custody of one of the women’s grandchildren.  They told me how they met with the school officials and explained the situation and the elementary school was just fine with it. They felt welcomed. That was Alabama.  Another day, we met a girl who was teased repeatedly after her older sister at the high school came out. The teachers in that school held a special class meeting to discuss the situation. That was Massachusetts. I was pleased to find caring schools, loving families, and students learning and growing in both states.  Sure, there were stories that made me sad.  But they, too, were in both states.

I saw great similarities when we spoke to the kids, and greater differences when we spoke to the adults.  There seemed to be more fear for losing a job or angering other parents in Alabama - for good reason, as there are fewer legal protections for LGBT people.  Educators were taking a bigger risk if they were out of the closet and straight allies also feared losing their jobs if they brought LGBT inclusive materials into the classroom.

But the kids? Well, watch the film and let me know what you think.  For me, they seem eager to acknowledge the importance of mutual respect and kindness.  As one boy explains the lesson he learned from his kindergarten teacher several years earlier, “Love is Love. Don’t turn love into hate.”

Register today for one of two free online screenings and discussions of the film April 4 and 5.

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