Tuesday, May 15, 2007

a "Brokeback" education

I guess this is what happens when you confuse a classroom with Las Vegas. An eighth-grade substitute teacher decided to show the film Brokeback Mountain to her students, setting off a controversial firestorm. She told her students, "What happens in Ms. Buford's class stays in Ms. Buford's class," but some of them thought otherwise.

A girl and her grandparents have sued the Chicago Board of Education, alleging that a substitute teacher showed the R-rated film "Brokeback Mountain" in class. The lawsuit claims that Jessica Turner, 12, suffered psychological distress after viewing the movie in her class at Ashburn Community Elementary School last year.
While films certainly have a place in the education of students, there is no reason to show a sexually explicit, R-rated film to a class of kids who are many years under the age limit of 17, whether it focuses on a homosexual relationship or not. Students' family members have every right to be upset by this.

And, really, what was the psychological distress the grandparents are talking about here? Did she wake up at night, screaming? Did she start having anxiety attacks whenever she saw a man wearing a cowboy hat? I'm not being frivilous here. These are important questions to ask in order to assess the level of trauma experienced.
"It is very important to me that my children not be exposed to this," said Kenneth Richardson, Turner's guardian. "The teacher knew she was not supposed to do this."

What shouldn't the children be exposed to? R-rated movies? Movies centered around a homosexual relationship? Movies with curse words? What does Richardson mean?

Another curious thing that isn't mentioned in the article is the reason behind showing this particular movie. Did the teacher have some kind of agenda, desiring to preach the virtues of tolerance and understanding? Did she want to teach the belief that love doesn't hold to any particular gender? Did she just have a crush on Jake Gyllenhall? The article doesn't say.


  1. There is a post over at bilerico that notes some oddities in this story that might be cause for skepticism as to the truth of the allegations in the lawsuit:

    Maybe it happened, but I can't fathom a school actually showing Brokeback Mountain in class, even though I generally thought it was a good movie.wow

  2. You're right, it's a very strange case. I'm always suspicious when a lawsuit involves "psychological distress." Thanks for the link, Doug.

    I still haven't seen "Brokeback."