Montgomery kids take part in film on gays, lesbians and bullying

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A film aimed at preventing anti-gay bullying premiered Monday night in Montgomery. It's called "What Do You Know: 6 to 12 year olds Talk About Gays and Lesbians" and features local students discussing the topic.

Some students said they see bullying on a daily basis.

"There are kids who are really teased brutally," said Elaina Samelo, an 8th grader who participated in the project.  "Words are just thrown at them and shoved into lockers and stuff.  It's really hard to watch."

The local premiere was at the Civil Rights Memorial Center, but the film was produced by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. It's aimed at educators and parents. The "Welcoming Schools" program, also run by the Human Rights Campaign, works with educators to try and prevent anti-gay bullying.

"Just addressing bullying, some of the most prevalent forms of bullying, and across the nation, we've seen young people respond in a way that shows the kind of bullying that they're suffering from," said Rhonda Thomason, who works with the program.

But some groups feel this program may cross a line between advocating against bullying and promoting an agenda.

"I think a lot of people don't want to have girls or guys sexually harassed, or some type of bullying, or some physical violence just because they happen to be different," said Randy Brinson, President of the Christian Coalition of Alabama.  "But that's a huge difference to going from that to a program that advocates certain types of lifestyles."

But the parents who allowed their children participate in the film disagree with Brinson.

"That's part of the education process," said Carol Samelo, a parent.  "That just talking about something, understanding it, is not going to make someone become gay, going to persuade them or lure them."

No local systems have signed up for the Welcoming Schools program just yet. But organizers hope that will change. The film will be formally released in October.  It's also scheduled to be screen at a film festival in Barcelona, Spain in November.

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