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A North Carolina teacher has returned to work after being suspended for showing her high school students a video about the dangers of bullying LGBTQ people.
Kimberly Fernetti selected the 2012 short film “Love is All You Need” by Kim Rocco Shields, which raises an interesting question: If heterosexual and cisgender kids were bullied the way queer youth are, what would the world look like? While some parents were upset by the graphicness of the final scene where a teenager cuts herself as she takes her own life, others thought the sentiment was profound and necessary.
“I don’t think it was vulgar or anything. I think it’s better to be aware and to know the possibility of what kids’ actions could do,” one student’s family member told local station WSOCTV.
The film, which has been viewed more than 4 million times on YouTube, hopes to challenge the way people think about homophobia and transphobia. This comes at a time when many feel that schools are failing queer youth by not providing them with enough protections for their identities, much less creating a climate that cuts down on bullying. Studies show that anti-LGBTQ bullying affects youth at high rates and can have long-term consequences impacting mental health, graduation rates, and self-esteem. North Carolina is also notoriously known for its “trans bathroom bill,” which forces transgender people to use public bathrooms, including in schools, that correspond with their sex, not their gender identity.
This isn’t the first time “Love Is All You Need” has caused an uproar, however. In 2015, a teacher in Kansas was similarly suspended, then allowed back to his position, after showing the video at school.
You can check out the full video below, courtesy of YouTube:
Marissa Higgins is the editor of Green Matters. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Slate, Salon, NPR, and elsewhere.