Being LGBTQ in Catholic school can mean feeling silenced. If you bring your whole self to school, you may risk being discounted, excluded, even forced out. That's especially difficult because many students love their Catholic schools for their quality of education and sense of tight-knit community.
Our film, a project of GLSEN Greater Cincinnati, unpacks this story, and works to empower students, educators, and parents to stand for change in the Catholic schools they support with time, energy, and money.
After the Archdiocese of Cincinnati fired an assistant principal for publicly supporting marriage equality, the Archdiocese wrote a new employment contract for educators. It holds teachers to the same standard of adherence to strict Catholic doctrine as lay ministers. One of the many new rules: teachers cannot publicly support "the homosexual lifestyle."
Our film is a feature-length (approx. 65 minutes) documentary on these two intertwined stories of Catholic schools. Students tell of generosity from their teachers, but also of being singled out for being LGBTQ, and fear of being thrown out of their schools for who they are. Educators speak of students needing support, but also of silence enforced by school policies and administrators.
We interview two accomplished, passionate teachers who left long, successful careers in Catholic education instead of consenting to the new contract's requirements. One felt that signing the contract would be a betrayal of her son, who is gay, so she had to leave her job.
Students tell us how this contract had an immediate effect on the classroom: young people worried that if they asked for support from a teacher, the teacher would get in trouble. A student who is trans describes how he stayed silent while feeling out of place in an all-girls school.
We present these and other stories as conversation starters. By watching the film, we hope to empower and equip students, educators, and parents to speak up in their school communities, and to ask for what they need, so that all students can feel valued, included, and engaged.
The film is a project of GLSEN Greater Cincinnati, with support from GLSEN. GLSEN is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for LGBTQ students. GLSEN Greater Cincinnati, a founding chapter of the GLSEN network in 1995, works to train educators, support GSTAs (Gay Straight Trans Alliances)/GSAs/diversity clubs in schools, advocates for enumerated school policies, programs an annual Youth Summit, and offers a weekly Youth Group for middle school and high school age youth.
e.E. Charlton-Trujillo (Director/Producer) A Mexican American, award-winning filmmaker and author, e.E. began her career at Killer Films in New York City, seeing first hand how to make powerful films with limited resources. Charlton-Trujillo has directed short films, music videos, short and feature documentaries. Her work has been featured on Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, MTV Impact and festivals world-wide. Her documentary, At-Risk Summer, was a lauded by audiences and a favorite of youth and educators. She is also the winner of the ALA Stonewall Book Award and a Lambda Literary Finalist for Fat Angie, whose sequel Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution releases in March 2019. She is the co-founder of the nonprofit Never Counted Out which generates access to creative mentorship for youth.
Josh Wagoner (Executive Producer) Through a decade of volunteering with GLSEN Greater Cincinnati, Josh has worked to put youth and educator voices front and center. The short film Stories Project: NOW is formatted as a panel discussion and has been used in hundreds of educator and community trainings. Documentary became the ideal medium to unpack conflicting memories of his years in Catholic school: the care and personal instruction, and also enforced silence. Josh is an interior designer at SPACES and is currently board president at Community Shares of Greater Cincinnati. This is his first feature film.
James Bailey (Editor/Composer/Interview Camera) Originally from Indiana, Ohio-based sound recordist, editor, composer, writer and director, James Bailey is a self-taught, highly sought after filmmaker. He's worked on dozens of projects, including festival favorites: 75, At-Risk Summer, Jacob's Paradox and A Handful of Pennies. His work has been featured on Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, ESPN and festivals world-wide. Currently, James is editing a feature film.
Alexander Elkins (Re-Enactment Cinematographer) Hailing from the Midwest, Alexander's cinematography on Twenty One Pilots "Stressed Out" garnered a startling 1,488,012,168 views on YouTube. Other 1 million plus viewed music videos he's filmed included Too Close To Touch "Nerve Endings," Ryan Robinette "Proof Is On Your Lips," and Red Sun Rising "Deathwish." His portfolio spans from narrative to documentary, commercial to music videos including work on UFO with X-Files star, Gillian Anderson and Mom and Dad starring Nicholas Cage and Selma Blair. Most recently, he wrapped 2nd Unit Production on the Naomi Watts and Mel Gibson feature Boss Level.
Christopher J. Hagan (Re-Enactment Cinematographer) Known for working on features Dusk, 75 and Over The Rhine, Christopher has built up an impressive resume with streaming series such as Wild Fire and Coca. With over a dozen short films to his credit, he's shot a half a dozen music videos including Flygo's "Stay Awhile" and Angelo's "Reminiscing."
Michael C. Potter (Re-Enactment Cinematographer) An accomplished and award-winning actor, director and cinematographer, Michael has successfully balanced his time between commercial and creative work. From film Miles Ahead, starring Don Cheadle, Jacob's Paradox and Reaching Out, Michael has also had notable hits with music videos such as Duality by Slipnot produced by the O'Keefe Music Foundation. Michael most recently completed filming in Africa.
Risks and challenges
All of the interview content is finished, and we feel we've captured what we set out to do: a diverse group of students and educators from Catholic schools around Cincinnati, telling the good and the bad of their experiences, and detailing how to make Catholic schools safe, inclusive environments for all students.
We want the film to start lots of conversations, so our challenge is how to make the film available to individuals and communities who can use it. Your support will allow us to make space for these conversations: at film festivals; at special screenings by local GLSEN chapters and allied organizations across the country; and at regional events organized by inclusive Catholics. Making the film available for streaming online, where students, educators, and parents can access it, is our long-range goal.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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