Following a spate of fights in his school this Spring, an openly gay teacher in the small conservative community of Palatka, Florida ignited controversy when he showed anti-LGBT bullying film “Love Is All You Need?” to his students.
“Love Is All You Need?” is based on the premise of a “reversed world” where social roles are inverted – “gay” is “straight” and “straight” is “gay”: a twelve year old girl is bullied for liking a boy in her school.
Outraged parents claimed the film would make their kids gay and called for the teacher’s firing. Local pastors went ballistic. “That video had nothing to do with bullying. … It had to do with a militant sodomite agenda,” said John Iskat, pastor of Faith Baptist Church, who was among a half-dozen pastors who spoke out against the film at a March 4 county School Board meeting. [read the full Florida Times article here.]
The Palatka High teacher, Jeremy Rhoden, lost his job: the city did not renew his contract. The school’s principle, Mary Beth Headstrom, is currently on suspension without pay for supporting the film; her contract is under threat of not being renewed for next year.
“Love Is All You Need?” was released as a 20-minute short in 2011. Since then, “Love Is All You Need?” has racked up more than 30 short film accolades, including 13 film festival awards, been translated into 15 languages, and – as a viral video sensation – has been viewed (on various platforms) by over 30 million views to date. (Watch the original short film here.)
“Love Is All You Need?” has the support of GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) – marking the first time the organization has partnered with a production company.
Encouraged by the success of the short, writer and director Kim Rocco Shields is raising funds and resources via crowdsourcing platform Indiegogo (deadline July 2) to make the feature film version of “Love Is All You Need.” “We’re hoping by making a feature we can go theatrical and hit more audiences and effect more people worldwide,” she says.
Shields has pledged to dedicate a percentage of the film’s proceeds to anti-bullying programs in Palatka.
Donate by July 2 at www.icanstopbullying.com.