Lessons Still Plentiful in “It’s Elementary”

Award-winning documentary on gay issues celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Debra Chasnoff will appear in NYC and San Francisco in October to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her groundbreaking 1997 film, It’s Elementary, about discussing gays issues in schools. The film will be screened with a follow-up companion documentary, It’s Still Elementary, that explores the impact of the original work on its participants and the changes in the educational, cultural and political landscape since its release.

The controversial It’s Elementary was the first film to argue that all children are affected by anti-gay prejudice and that adults have a responsibility to address it. Its verite style, directed by Chasnoff and co-produced with Helen Cohen, revealed grade-school classrooms where pioneering teachers had developed age-appropriate ways to talk to children about LGBT people. The film catalyzed the safe schools movement throughout the world.

Chasnoff told GO that, “It’s Elementary illustrates one of the best uses of film: to show audiences something they never before imagined possible.” Her appearance at Columbia University in New York City on Oct 18 will include a special panel about creating safe schools.

Now the executive director of GroundSpark, formerly Women’s Educational Media, and co-creator of the Respect For All project, Chasnoff won the 1991 Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject for Deadly Deception—General Electric, Nuclear Weapons & Our Environment, which she produced.

For details on the 10th anniversary celebration of It’s Elementary, visit womedia.org.