/ 15 November 2015

Teacher won’t quit after anti-bullying film uproar

For many LGBT people in Kenya
The slain dancer and choreographer was so much more than an internationally celebrated artist. They were also a proud queer rights activist and a beloved child and friend.

A Kansas schoolteacher says he has changed his mind about resigning after showing a graphic anti-bullying short film to his history class, which led to vociferous complaints from parents.

The Wichita Eagle reported that Tom Leahy, a teacher at Conway Springs Middle School, was expected to hand in his resignation after showing Love Is All You Need? to three eighth-grade history classes, in which the pupils are 13 to 14 years old.

The 19-minute satirical film depicts a society in which same-sex relationships are conventional and a young girl is picked on for being heterosexual.

The film, directed by Kim Rocco Shields and produced in 2011, culminates in the fictional protagonist killing herself.

Leahy has been on leave since October 21 and was expected to resign at a Conway Springs school board meeting on Monday, November 9. But he cancelled a joint press conference with the school superintendent and said he did not plan to resign.

He told the Eagle: “There’s a lot of people who don’t want me to give up on this. People I don’t even know … I’d like to have the chance to tell [the school board] my side of things.”

Leahy said he decided to show the film after some of his pupils demonstrated disturbing anti-LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) behaviour during a history class exercise in which different groups were asked to draw up a Bill of Rights for their fictional colony.

He said: “I was expecting fairly positive kinds of colonies – but it just kind of got twisted around. Then the issue of gay versus straight came up, and a lot of them were not allowing gays into their colony and stuff like that. There were some hard feelings. Kids were getting upset.”

Leahy said he did not get permission from his school principal to show the film, nor did he send permission slips to parents. Parents complained to the school principal and superintendent, focusing on the graphic nature of the film’s ending and a scene emphasising the Catholic Church’s inflexibility, according to Leahy.

The school’s superintendent, Clay Murphy, said he couldn’t comment directly because it was a personnel matter. “In these situations, there’s no winners,” he said. “We all lose. It doesn’t matter what the outcome is. You’ve got two divided sides, and you can’t please everybody.” – ©?Guardian News & Media 2015