School Board Sued Over ‘Brokeback’ Viewing

A girl and her grandparents have sued the Chicago Board of Education, alleging that a substitute teacher showed the R-rated film “Brokeback Mountain” in class.

The lawsuit claims that Jessica Turner, 12, suffered psychological distress after viewing the movie in her 8th grade class at Ashburn Community Elementary School last year.

The film, which won three Oscars, depicts two cowboys who conceal their homosexual affair.

Turner and her grandparents, Kenneth and LaVerne Richardson, are seeking around $500,000 in damages.

“It is very important to me that my children not be exposed to this,” said Kenneth Richardson, Turner’s guardian. “The teacher knew she was not supposed to do this.”

According to the lawsuit filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court, the video was shown without permission from the students’ parents and guardians.

The lawsuit also names Ashburn Principal Jewel Diaz and a substitute teacher, referred to as “Ms. Buford.”

The substitute asked a student to shut the classroom door at the West Side school, saying: “What happens in Ms. Buford’s class stays in Ms. Buford’s class,” according to the lawsuit.

Richardson said his granddaughter was traumatized by the movie and had to undergo psychological treatment and counseling.

In 2005, Richardson complained to school administrators about reading material that he said included curse words.

“This was the last straw,” he said. “I feel the lawsuit was necessary because of the warning I had already given them on the literature they were giving out to children to read. I told them it was against our faith.”

Messages left over the weekend with CPS officials were not immediately returned.

I have watched Brokeback Mountain. It doesn’t offend me. I thought it was an ok movie, the sex scenes where really no different then any other sex scenes in any other movie and I have seen more then one or two movies that showed gay sex so it was no big shocker. I didn’t see what all the fuss was about (for or against the movie). But showing this movie in school to 12 year olds is just completely inappropriate. Any R rated movie shown in class would be inappropriate it. Didn’t the sub have a copy of Charolette’s Web or something to show them? And what was a copy of the movie doing in the school? Do they keep it on hand or did the sub bring it? Whatever happen to reading, writing and arithmetic? Now teachers are thrusting their personal and political agendas on children. Let kids be kids. It’s the shortest period in our lives don’t take that away from them.


  • Reply
    May 14, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Admittedly, I liked Brokeback Mountain and it was definitely a movie of class despite other gay movies out there, but I am quite against the fact that they are showing it in schools. I don’t think that’s very appropriate. Kids should be watching colorful movies like Shrek and stuff.

    [despair] =)

  • Reply
    May 16, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    While I think the father is a bit naive and the claims of psychological distress are a little much, I definitely do not think the film should’ve been shown in a class of 12 year olds.

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