A North Carolina teacher was suspended from her job after parents were reportedly angered by an anti-LGBTQ bullying film she played for students.
Kimberly Fernetti, who is a teacher at North Lincoln High School in North Carolina’s Lincoln County, presented Kim Rocco Shields and David Tillman’s “Love Is All You Need?” to her class as part of a lesson on bullying, WSOC-TV reported Wednesday. Released in 2012, the short film is set in a sort of alternate universe where homosexuality in the norm, and straight people are ostracized.
The 19-minute film, which has been viewed over 4 million times on YouTube, concludes with a young girl slashing her wrists in a bathtub in a suicide attempt after she is bullied at school for being straight.
School officials told WSOC-TV that Fernetti was suspended following a string of complaints from parents about the content “Love Is All You Need?,” but has since returned to work. While it isn’t entirely clear from the complaints were focused on the film’s pro-LGBTQ message or its depiction of suicide, one student defended Fernetti’s decision to present it. “I personally have dealt with bullying,” he told WSOC-TV, “so I think it’s good to get the point across that ‘Hey, it’s not OK to pick on somebody.’” A family member of a student who was outside the school felt similarly, adding, “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.”
You can view “Love Is All You Need?” below, then scroll down to keep reading.
It isn’t the first time that “Love Is All You Need?” has stirred controversy. In 2015, social studies teacher Tom Lehy was reportedly asked to resign from his job at Conway Springs Middle School in Conway Springs, Kansas, after playing the film for three of his classes.
Lehy later acknowledged the film’s disturbing content, telling KFOR-TV, “I loved what the message of the video was, but I should have done it in a different way.” At the time of the KFOR-TV interview, he was on leave, but said he planned to retire within a year.
In a short post on the film’s official website, co-writer Tillman argued that the film accurately depicts “the harm and longterm effects” of bullying in schools. “Having been a victim of bullying I know firsthand the pain, suffering and self-hate it caused me,” he wrote. “If even one person is saved from self-harm or from inflicting pain on another, then I believe we will have succeeded in our mission.”