By students, a new documentary takes an in-depth look at the trials of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teenagers in Colorado -- and their path to becoming inspirational anti-bullying activists.
In Breaking the Silence, director Shea Alexander Dietz chronicles his journey of coming out as gay when he was a high school senior through his decision to become a social activist, and tells the stories of four teens who struggled with their identities and bullying throughout high school. From Dietz's blog:
For many years I denied it to not only others, but myself because there was something inside of me that said, "It was wrong." It wasn’t until summer 2010 when I went to the USC School of Cinematic Arts to study production and found solace in my art around me that I was able to accept and love myself for who I am. I came home from film school at the end of the summer and decided it was time to come out for my senior year of high school.
After Dietz came out, he decided to explore why discrimination happens through film and wanted to create a safer environment in his school by starting a Gay Straight Alliance. His school declined both the film and the club, so Dietz reached out to the community.
Recently, the death of Jamey Rodemeyer has cast a national spotlight on gay bullying in schools, particularly the complex emotional and social issues that lead to extreme measures like 14-year-old Rodemeyer's suicide. The teenager killed himself after posting a viral "It Gets Better" video, and his case drew further national attention when Lady Gaga vowed on Twitter to make bullying illegal -- even going to the president himself to address the issue.
A recent video shows a school bully waiting inside a classroom for a gay student, so he could beat the victim to the ground.
Just last week, the Topeka Unified School District 501 Board of Education unanimously voted to add sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression to the school district's anti-discrimination policies. Topeka's initial passage comes as West Virginia just announced a proposal for an anti-bullying policy in schools that for the first time, recognizes sexual orientation and gender identity as common reasons for harassment and school bullying.
Through this documentary, Dietz aims to answer, "why does discrimination happen?" And according to the documentary's website:
The film will make it clear that discrimination is still prevalent in our schools, but that a difference can be made.
By showing the human side to the gay rights movement we will inspire a change in the culture of schools across the country towards LGBT youth.
WATCH the trailer below: