A local council and a youth support agency have both created DVDs for school students on how to deal with issues of same-sex attraction because education departments wouldn’t and the existing curriculum was leaving young people with unanswered concerns.
WA’s City of Melville health promotion officer Janet Armarego pushed for $100,000 in lottery and government funding to make a 50-minute film based on the troubles of six young men including self-esteem, coping with a break-up, how to come out to your mates, and taking a same-sex partner to the school formal.
Often boys don’t have anyone they can confide it, so they keep all their problems inside. We made the DVD because there wasn’t anything to help boys talk about their issues. The Education Department won’t do anything, Armarego said.
We produced a booklet several years ago after talking to a group of young men, but we felt a DVD would be more engaging. Watch-ing a group of boys with these issues makes it easier to talk about because they don’t have to admit anything about themselves.
The 6 DVD is being used by WA schools and a number of youth support services across Australia, including in areas like Coffs Harbour and Sydney’s western suburbs. Much of it is based on real-life cases of coming out.
There was a rumour going around my son’s school that a boy would bring his boyfriend to the ball, Armarego said. She plans to send a free copy of the DVD to Brisbane’s Anglican Church Grammar School, which recently blocked a male student doing the same.
Things might be difficult now but it will get better, the film affirms, while mixing in humour and swearing that reflect the group of young men who drafted the script.
Inside Out, a youth service for same-sex attracted guys in Adelaide, has also ventured into the filmmaking business, producing a short about overcoming schoolyard taunts and self-harm.
Not Waving, Drowning screened at gay and lesbian film festivals around the world last year and Inside Out is offering it for use in schools along with another youth same-sex attraction documentary Butterfly Stories.
The DVDs from both City of Melville and Inside Out carry additional group-based classroom materials so teachers can encourage debate about strategies young people can use in these situations.