It's Elementary takes cameras into classrooms across the U.S. to look at one of today's most controversial issues - whether and how LGBT issues should be discussed in schools.
"It's Elementary inspires educators to address homophobia and create classrooms where all youth are respected. Should be mandatory for all new teachers if we are serious about raising kids to be free of hate and prejudice."
It features elementary and middle schools where (mainly heterosexual) teachers are challenging the prevailing political climate and its attempt to censor any dialogue in schools about gay people.
There are two versions of the film available—the original highly acclaimed feature length and a shorter version, 37-minutes, designed for professional development workshops.
Rather than focusing on the debate between adults, though, the film takes the point of view of the school children, starting as young as first grade. The results are surprising and, as the LA Reader says, "funny, touching, and fascinating." Third graders' jaws drop when they find out some of their favorite celebrities are gay; second graders react to a book about a girl who gets teased because she has two moms; fourth graders say it makes them "feel weird in your stomach" when other kids yell "faggot" on the playground and teachers don't do anything about it; eighth graders fire a barrage of poignant questions to the gay guest speakers who visit their social studies class; third graders passionately debate the current events issue of the day: should gays be allowed to get married? It becomes quite clear that most children are affected by anti-gay prejudice in some way, and that they are very responsive to a curriculum that teaches respect for everyone, including lesbians and gay men.
Former Assistant Secretary of Education, Kevin Jennings, says It's Elementary, with its refreshing child's eye-view of a topic that sends some adult racing to their school boards, "is the most important film dealing with LGBT issues and safe schools ever made."
Comes packaged with It's STILL Elementary. This companion documentary follows up with some of the original students and teachers from It's Elementary and asks them how lessons about LGBT issues affected their lives - and the results are profound. The film also tells the fascinating history of why the original film was made, the infamous response it provoked from the conservative right, and the questions it raises for the national safe schools movement today.
"I preview scores of tapes for our diversity and multicultural training programs and It's Elementary is really the BEST film I can recall. For people who are in the business of educating educators, this is a seminal piece of work."
"By providing the educational community with It's Elementary, Chasnoff and Cohen have provided...college instructors, workshop leaders, facilitators, and social activists one of the most powerful and important resources available for initiating dialogue, encouraging individual self-development, and pushing forth toward educational and social change on a topic that too few have successfully accessibly addressed."
"...a sterling production...highly recommended for parents, educators, and other adults."
"It's Elementary does a lot to cool down one of education's hottest potatoes... (it) should be consoling to parents who are eager to raise good-hearted children but who can't imagine how this topic can be addressed in class."
"A challenging, wonderfully provocative piece which offers a highly engaging forum for discussion of many issues concerning schools - like what's 'appropriate' subject matter and how to combat the most basic kinds of intolerance."
"Remarkable! Should be in any library collection interested in education, community issues or gay and lesbian studies."
"If schools are serious about preparing students for the future, we have to help them handle the diversity that exists in our communities. By addressing gay issues, we will prevent violence and foster equality. It's Elementary is an extremely moving portrait of how it can be done."
"It's Elementary serves as a model for educators who want to deal with the subject of lesbians and gays but don't know where to begin."
"Profoundly heartwarming and disarmingly straightforward"
"A 'must-see' for educational policy makers. It's Elementary demystifies the inclusion of information about gay people into early education curricula and makes a compelling case that children should be taught to respect all people, including lesbians and gay men, as an integral part of their early education. "