________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 19 . . . . May 22, 1998

Cover School's OUT! Confronting Homophobia in High Schools.

Directed by Lynne Fernie. Produced by Rina Fraticelli.
Montreal, PQ: Great Jane Productions (Distributed by the National Film Board of Canada), 1997.
24 min. 32 sec. VHS $39.95.
Order number 9196 128.

Subject Headings:
Gay youth-Canada.
Homosexuality and education-Canada.

Grades 7 - 12 / Ages 12 - 17.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4

The irony of the video's short title is that most gay adolescents [or gay teachers] are not [cannot be] "out" in the nation's schools because of the rampant, largely unchecked homophobia which is found in schools [and homes], homophobia that finds its public expression amongst adolescents in their hallway/locker/bathroom graffiti and in the language they use in the schoolyard and sometimes even the classroom.

      A slip-out "User's Guide" in the video case explains that School's OUT! is meant to provoke discussion about sexual orientation, examine some of the stereotypes about lesbian and gay youth and look at some of the reasons why youth often use homophobic terms to put down their peers." The vehicles to provide the stimulus for that discussion are five homosexual young adults, four lesbians and a gay, who are part of TEACH (Teens Educating And Confronting Homophobia) plus social activist and author Jane Rule. While the latter puts sexual orientation and gay rights into a "recent" historical context for the viewing audience's consideration, it is the five adolescents who will likely speak most effectively to a teen viewing audience. As individuals and as a group, the quintet candidly share aspects of their experiences as school students who also happened to be homosexual and what it was like for them to be surrounded by homophobia, whether it was directed at them personally or just in a more general fashion towards all homosexuals. Perhaps the most telling message that the video presents was expressed by one of the youth who said, "Gay and bi-sexual students do not have a safe environment in which to learn."

      If the video has an obvious weakness, it is in the lack of balance between its representation of male and female gays. Since School's OUT! makes the point that the sexuality of adolescent males often appears to be more threatened by homosexuality than that of females, the sole gay male in the video is not a sufficiently strong enough voice to place the issue forcefully before the "guys." Those classes who get to watch the video will not be bored by its contents, and its pace, while not as rapid fire as music videos, will hold teens' attention.

      That there is need for resources such as School's OUT! is demonstrated by the "caution" included in the "User's Guide":

      "Before screening the video, check with your school or workplace for policies and guidelines in order to provide appropriate advice and/or further resources."


Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in YA literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364