Skip to comments.MTV show to feature Dallas gay school - struggling Walt Whitman hopes film brings students, funds
Posted on 04/17/2003 2:46:52 AM PDT by MeekOneGOP
MTV show to feature Dallas gay school
Struggling Walt Whitman hopes film brings students, funds
In the six years since its founding, the Walt Whitman Community School has struggled with low enrollment, strapped budgets and a perplexing problem.
How, school organizers wonder, do you expand a private school for gay and lesbian teens when the students you serve are, essentially, in hiding?
One possible answer: Get yourself on MTV.
Whitman, one of the country's few schools established specifically to educate gay and lesbian teens, will get a national megaphone Thursday night when MTV airs the documentary School's Out: The Life of a Gay High School in Texas.
Becky Thompson, the Dallas school's principal and executive director, said the opportunity to become the subject of independent filmmakers came at a critical time for the school, which was struggling with low enrollment and scarce resources.
"We were questioning a lot of things about ourselves: How do we get the word out? How do we find our students?" Ms. Thompson said. "They're pretty much in hiding."
Part of MTV's True Life series, School's Out chronicles the lives of eight Whitman students over last school year. Camera crews shadowed the students in school, at home and around Dallas. The movie premiered in the United States last week at a Raleigh, N.C., documentary film festival.
Whitman will have a local premiere, which is closed to the public, Thursday night at the Lakewood Theater in Dallas. MTV is airing a 90-minute version of the film at 9 p.m.
Initially, the project was to be a documentary that would play on a circuit of documentary film festivals. After the project started, however, MTV agreed to air a television version of the film, Ms. Thompson said.
Ms. Thompson makes no bones about why the school and its board of directors agreed to the project. They hope the publicity brings them money and students.
For example, Whitman's students come to Dallas from all over the country, and the school needs a dormitory, she said.
With only 16 students, however, and a budget that won't hit $150,000 this year, building a dorm isn't likely without the publicity that School's Out can bring, Ms. Thompson said.
Money for other services, such as social workers and counseling, is also needed. The school rents classroom space from the White Rock Community Church on Garland Road.
The subjects of the film had reasons of their own for participating.
After growing up ostracized in Texarkana, Michael Boyd, 19, saw the film as a chance to speak to kids who are confused about their sexuality.
"I'm hoping the film will impact the community of youth who feel alone and reassure them that they're not," he said.
Initially, he said, it took him about a week to get comfortable with the cameras around. Mr. Boyd has since earned his GED and is working at a Dallas law firm.
Mr. Boyd said he's a bit nervous about seeing himself on a movie screen during the Lakewood showing Thursday night.
"I just hope that people understand the different culture and lifestyle," he said.
Angel Collie, a former Whitman student, saw the film at its premiere in Raleigh. The documentary focuses quite a bit on Angel and her relationship with her girlfriend.
Even though the film was made less than a year ago, Ms. Collie, 17, said she hardly recognizes herself on the screen. The filmmakers were fascinated with Ms. Collie's body piercings. She has more than 50.
She has since toned down the body art and broken up with her girlfriend. She also has left Dallas and moved back to North Carolina.
"I wanted to get out there and show [the world] what gay youth are really about," she said. "I wanted to talk about it and show them that we're real people."
Great. As Archie Bunker would have said . . . Aw, Jeez Louise !
Maybe the National attention will finish them off.
Sick, sick stuff. *sigh*
Maybe there aren't as many of the these happy students as they would like us to beleive!
But weren't they supposed to be just like us? That was the story last week, anyway.
Yes. And a probing exit interview.
Sounds as if they are in arrears.
I think it's code for, "I hope nobody makes a big deal of the BJs going on in the hallway and in the back of the classrooms."
Gotta wonder if there's going to be a school psychologist. If so, how he-she-it could possibly justify it's job?
Thanks for your comments !
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