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ABCs and LGBT: Teaching Tolerance to Kids

The same week a gay 8th grader was murdered, allegedly by a fellow student because of his sexual orientation, a landmark documentary on gay tolerance celebrated its 10th anniversary.

"It's Elementary: Talking about Gay Issues in School" focuses on 8th graders and the effort to prevent anti-gay bias from taking root in young minds. Here's a clip from the film, re-released last week on DVD.

When it came out in '98, there was a firestorm of controversy over talking homosexuality with K-8 graders. Opponents claimed the film was trying to indoctrinate school children in "the gay agenda," as they called it.

So is 6, 7 or 8 too early to talk LGBT? Or is it the right time to open minds and possibly help avoid more hate crimes like the California case? Let us know what you think.

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We have to face that our children are growing up quicker than we'd like them to. They're being exposed to everything, including what it means to hate, earlier and earlier. I think it's good to talk to them about this issue so that they have the facts from the start.

Sent by Kate | 10:54 AM | 2-26-2008

As an openly gay mother I think it's very important to teach tolerance to our children. I think we need to teach equality for all people. Children aren't born hating any group of people they are exposed to hate from the influences in their lives. We as a nation have to be more accepting. I recongize that all minorities have had to fight for rights in this country and it is no different for homosexuals but as we continue to grow as a country it's becoming more imperative we encourage our children to be accepting of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.

Sent by Cristin R. | 12:00 PM | 2-26-2008

I hope this is taken in the spirit of openness with which it is intended, but I can't help but feel that some prejudices are treated with more deference than others. For example, when two gunmen fired on students in Columbine High School, the gunmen focused their hatred upon devout Chistians, among others. So, where was the call to teach religious tolerance in public school? If it was there, I didn't see it. If it was there, it was reported on.

Now, every program on tolerance is not created equal. For example, I remember one pro-gay rights program for public schools where one student blames Christians for all of the problems in the world. I don't think it was this program, but that program traded one kind of intolerance for another.

The point I want to make is that just because someone claims to be teaching tolerance doesn't mean they are. For that matter, what is tolerance? I learned from catechism that tolerance is accepting who someone is without necessarily accepting what someone does. I don't think that's everyone definition.

Sent by Matthew Scallon | 6:33 PM | 2-26-2008

Scallon,

This isn't about God, this is about gay rights. Why toss religion into it? You even admit the program being discussed doesn't attack Christianity.

Gays aren't trying to eradicate Christianity. Get a grip.

"when two gunmen fired on students in Columbine High School, the gunmen focused their hatred upon devout Chistians, among others"

Uh... Dude, they just randomly shot at people.

Seriously, the "Do you believe in God?" incident was proven by investigators to be fake testimony by individuals who were trying to create the appearance of an anti-Christian agenda.

But in the end Columbine was found to be random chaos created by 2 men who needed help but were ignored. It wasn't racial violence, it wasn't religious violence. It was just pure violence. Nuff said.

"For example, I remember one pro-gay rights program for public schools where one student blames Christians for all of the problems in the world."

What are you talking about? C'mon, making up random.... Argh. This is... argh.

"I learned from catechism that tolerance is accepting who someone is without necessarily accepting what someone does."

Love the sinner hate the sin. I agree. But being gay isn't a sin. So its moot in this case.

Look Matt Scallon... gays can love Jesus too; we just have dirtier dreams about him. Hee-hee :)

Sent by Brian | 11:07 PM | 2-26-2008

Some (not all) Christians point to their understanding of the Bible as a reason for descrimintating against gays. Calling that out isn't anti-Christian, it's anti-bigot.

Sent by Maura | 11:08 AM | 2-27-2008

It's great to see that the BPP is focusing on this important educational piece. You did a great interview with Debra Chasnoff on Tuesday - you should include a link to the audio in this blog posting.

Sent by jane | 11:22 AM | 2-27-2008

i was in this film as a second grader! glad to see it's being re-released on DVD

Sent by SA | 9:25 AM | 3-3-2008

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