With a fearless look at a highly charged subject, Straightlaced unearths how popular pressures around gender and sexuality are confining American teens. Their stories reflect a diversity of experiences, demonstrating how gender role expectations and homophobia are interwoven, and illustrating the different ways that these expectations connect with culture, race and class.
From girls confronting media messages about culture and body image to boys who are sexually active just to prove they aren’t gay, this fascinating array of students opens up with brave, intimate honesty about the toll that deeply held stereotypes and rigid gender policing have on all our lives.
Straightlaced includes the perspectives of teens who self-identify as straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual or questioning and represent all points of the gender spectrum. With courage and unexpected humor, they open up their lives to the camera: choosing between “male” and “female” deodorant; deciding whether to go along with anti-gay taunts in the locker room; having the courage to take ballet; avoiding the restroom so they won’t get beaten up; or mourning the suicide of a classmate. It quickly becomes clear that just about everything teens do requires thinking about gender and sexuality.
Coming of age today has become increasingly complex and challenging; Straightlaced offers both teens and adults a way out of anxiety, fear and violence and points the way toward a more inclusive, empowering culture.
If I was King of the World I'd have every parent, teacher and teenager in America see this documentary so that as many hearts and minds as possible would find more compassion and understanding, and take more initiative in protecting our young people, our future.
Brilliantly illuminates the distorted messages about gender that constrict and sometimes destroy the lives and dreams of high school students across the nation. This documentary is also the most impressive example of ethnography I have seen in 20 years in academia.
Margaret Waller, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Humboldt State University
Heartfelt, fast-moving and fully multicultural . . An honest, smart, respectful, and nearly comprehensive treatment of gender in teens' lives with the potential to inspire nuanced, spirited conversations.
School Library Journal
Watching Straightlaced rekindled both the outrage and the hope that came with bringing Harvey Milk's story to the screen. This new documentary is a rare gem that provides a forum for young people to speak eloquently about the courage it takes to break out of the box, live authentic lives, and stand up for justice. I think Harvey would be proud of the kids in Straightlaced, and I urge young and old alike to support GroundSpark's campaign to get this film screened in schools and communities across the country.
Support[s] sociological, feminist, and queer theories that have moved beyond a simply social construction of gender and sexuality to a more complex reading of how gender and sexuality only come into being during the very act of doing.
Susan M. Alexander, Professor, St. Mary's College
Resource Web Sites
Straightlaced Curriculum Guide and Companion Curriculum DVD Disc
Straightlaced comes packaged with a 160 page curriculum guide to enhance the use of Straightlaced in school, community group and professional development settings.
“An excellent complement to the film and an invaluable resource!” —National Education Association
What's in the Guide:
The guide is designed as a companion to the film—to support users to open important conversations and create change in classrooms, schools, or community groups. The guide includes:
• Critical background information on a wide range of issues related to teens, gender and sexuality—and the ways these issues connect with race, culture and class
• Preparation tips for bringing Straightlaced to your school or community
• Youth-friendly warm-up activities to help introduce the film
• Strategies and questions for creating dynamic Straightlaced discussions with middle and high school students
• A variety of theme-based activities to extend and deepen the conversation on specific topics, such as: media messages, gender identity, stereotypes and social disparities, gay and lesbian experience, gender and race, and healthy relationships
• Engaging tools for assessing school climate and taking action
• Additional resources to help continue the dialogue
The curriculum is designed to be used with a companion 2nd DVD that includes film clips for the activities, as well as electronic copies of all handouts and materials. The guide and the companion DVD are packaged wtih the full film in a two DVD set.
Online discussion guide
Resources to Download