This is a guest post written by Ross Johnstone, Director of Education for Out in Schools – Out On Screen
One of my happiest childhood memories is of the joy I felt in middle school when my teacher would begin our class by spooling a film projector. All of my fellow students delighted in the knowledge that a film would substitute for our regular lesson plan, and the excitement in the room was akin to that of a snow day, or a spontaneous field trip.
This celebration of film still exists in today’s classroom, but with substantially increased accessibility to production and dissemination. New devices can capture, edit and upload our stories instantly. As a result, more young people are developing their cultural voice through film production, and they are speaking out on issues that concern them. In my experience as a classroom facilitator, I’ve learned that this peer-to-peer messaging is the most effective model to engage young people on issues of social justice and to help foster media literacy among youth with multiple learning styles.
The power of the peer-driven message is the inspiration behind the Rise Against Homophobia Youth Short Video Contest. This is a new opportunity for students from coast to coast, aged 12 to 19, to create a short public service announcement that challenges homophobic bullying and violence in their community. Rise Against Homophobia is presented by Out in Schools, a unique BC-based high school outreach initiative that uses student films to engage young people on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Questioning (LGBTQ) issues. In a partnership with the NFB, and with support from Heritage Canada, the Rise Against Homophobia Youth Short Video Contest rewards participants with up to $2,500, given to the group that creates the winning video.
LGBTQ Issues & Schools
Canadian students can be proud to learn that Canada has provided more legal rights for LGBTQ people than many other nations. However, most of our school districts have yet to catch up with federal legislation on these issues, and homophobia remains fairly pervasive in our classrooms. LGBTQ-related topics are not included in our curriculum, and many of our students are still not provided with positive LGBTQ messages. This curricular gap can lead to serious consequences. In fact, 70% of students report hearing homophobic language in their schools every day, and LGBTQ youth are four times more likely than their straight peers to commit suicide as a result of bullying. Rise Against Homophobia is an opportunity for all students to be creative in promoting safer and more diverse schools, free from discrimination.
For educators, Rise Against Homophobia is a great way to introduce, or complement, a discussion on LGBTQ issues in your classroom. Students can use a camera, cell phone or any other device to create their videos. They can also discover new applications, such as the NFB’s PixStop app, to develop their skills as filmmakers and make a positive impact on their learning environment.
The deadline for submissions is June 11, 2012. To enter, visit www.OutinSchools.com
To view last year’s winners, visit: