With a fearless look at a highly charged subject, Straightlaced unearths how pressures around gender and sexuality are confining American teens. These stories reflect a diversity of experiences, demonstrating how gender role expectations and homophobia are interwoven, and illustrating the different ways these expectations connect with culture, race and class.
From girls confronting media messages about body image to boys who are sexually active just to prove they aren’t gay, a 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.
"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."
Straightlaced includes the perspectives of teens who self-identify as straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual or questioning and represents all points of the gender spectrum. With courage and unexpected humor, these students 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.
"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."
"a documentary that models courageous conversations that we must be having in our teaching, learning, and living. It has served as a pivotal work that has framed my "Gender Equity in the Classroom" and "Anti-Discriminatory Education" courses with pre- and in-service teachers within online and face-to-face instruction as well as prompted critical discourse with high school students."
"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."
"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."
"GSA Network's research report, Implementing Lessons that Matter, documents how LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum can substantially improve safety, engagement, academic achievement, and success for students. The school in our study with the greatest improvements in student safety used 'Straightlaced' and its curriculum guide as one of their tools for implementing LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum. We recommend this outstanding resource for schools across the country that want to improve LGBTQ student safety."
"The young people in this wonderful documentary have given us the gift of their honesty, insight, and hope even within a context of persistent gender conservatism. Their provocative comments stimulate lively classroom discussions and even debates on topics students otherwise find too 'hot to handle.'"
"As in Chasnoff's previous recent works, the film is remarkable for the candor with which its subjects speak - in this case, teens discussing their frustrations with gender roles and stereotypes."
Our adults are learning as much as our kids from your films! This terrific film works for all age groups!
"Essential viewing. Beaks down stereotypes and visualizes something we can't afford not to talk about. A vital tool for classrooms around the country."
"Fabulous! I confess I broke down crying in the middle of the screening. Straightlaced presents a new kind of analysis of gender that drops the insistence that it is women who only matter when we talk about gender."
"It’s devastating how binary labels can privilege some and limit others, and yet these young people have found big and small ways to thumb their noses at convention to express who they are. 'Straightlaced' will provoke and generate thoughtful and serious conversations about gender among anyone – including adults – who watches it."
"Witty, smart, articulate, and forthright...a piercing look at what American teens have to say about male and female societal roles, and how teen culture re-enforces conformity to gender expectations, sometimes violently."
"My priest friend came up after the movie and gave me a big hug. 'Sarah, that movie was phenomenal! I've never seen anything quite like it.'"
"GroundSpark has come out with a new powerful educational documentary in which 'gender intensification' is on high display. High school is like a pressure cooker when it comes to fulfilling gender roles. Straightlaced may be the first film to document what life is really like for teens who try to live up to masculine and feminine ideals, want to live up to them, or sometimes simply refuse them altogether."
"The teens here are smart, thoughtful, and articulate, and they effectively express a wide range of experiences related to gender issues. Highly recommended."
"Powerful...Fascinating...An in-depth, fun-but-serious documentary that will be an important learning tool for students, certainly, but also for anyone who has ever been felt constrained by gender — which includes all of us whether we consciously acknowledge it or not."
“A wonderful film to explore gender roles, identity and acceptance with today’s students. Every high school student in America should see it.”
"This movie is an amazing testimony, told completely in the voice of young people, of how gender is not binary. Why the full spectrum of gender identity is nothing to fear. A call to action that if we embrace people being exactly who they are that we become stronger rather than weak; we create more love and peace rather than hate and violence.A must see for anyone who has a young person in their lives. This dialogue should be part of every curriculum in school."
“Straightlaced makes an invaluable contribution to our community by helping audiences throughout the country understand how their notions and attitudes about gender can do real damage to young people and to society as a whole. Misogyny, sexism, and gender discrimination are the root cause for so much hostility and prejudice against LGBT people. Straightlaced helps us all come to terms with our fear and discomfort around gender and gender nonconformity and in doing so makes the world safer for all of us.”
“I have been training groups for over 20 years. The more I do this work on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, the more I realize that is all about GENDER. Straightlaced helps me make that point with both youth and professional adult audiences – it is engaging, provocative, and very telling. It is a great discussion tool! Youth audiences see themselves and their experiences reflected. Adult audiences are stunned to see that the stories haven’t really changed that much over the years… it STILL about gender and how it’s got us all tied up!”
"All of our employees watched Straightlaced for a professional learning session. The film greatly assisted their understanding of the many facets of human sexual diversity. The ability to connect human faces to issues that far too frequently become the focus of “cerebral” and political discussions made a significant impact."
“a compelling film that offers a unique lens into the lives of adolescents across America. It is a call for incorporating youth voices into a consistent and committed dialogue about gender, sexuality, and safety in schools.”
"Fifty students talk with bracing candor and insight about how they navigate gender, sexuality, peer pressure, and homophobia. The results are sometimes encouraging, sometimes disheartening, but consistently fascinating. An excellent documentary."
"The heterosexist and homophobic system that Straightlaced exposes goes beyond values and preferences and is shown to threaten the very uniqueness that makes our children beautiful."
"Interesting, informative, and very well put together visually. I would recommend it to anyone- but especially to teens."
"Powerful... Fascinating.... An in-depth, fun-but-serious documentary that will be an important learning tool for students, certainly, but also for anyone who has ever been felt constrained by gender- which includes all of us whether we consciously acknowledge it or not."
"What I really like about the film is that... it's about everyone, and how everyone gets put into these little cookie-cutter molds and how weird that is."
"This film should be required viewing for both students of journalism and political science. I show it to my students to dispel their romantic misconceptions about political reporting."
"Having viewed several other documentaries that are targeted toward the women’s studies classroom,..Straightlaced [is] well constructed and refreshingly inclusive. The film is as political as it is informative and enjoyable....The filmmakers show an array of identities across the gender spectrum from various standpoints. Standpoint theory is often taught in women’s studies classrooms, and the film provides several examples of this theory."
"I used Straightlaced to teach Identity and Ethnic Studies to English Language Learners. It was a class I entered halfway through the year, inheriting a lot of misogyny and homophobia from the lack of community building in the fall. The film worked great; the students loved it, and it led to conversations that totally changed the dynamic. Thank you!"