‘Brokeback’ in class

Claiming that a substitute teacher showed the R-rated “Brokeback Mountain” in class, a 12-year-old Chicago girl’s family has filed suit claiming she suffered psychological distress from watching male cowboys (OK, shepherds) have sex with each other. The girl and her grandparents are seeking more than $400,000 in damages. That’s a lot of trauma.

The plaintiffs accuse the principal, the teacher and the Chicago Board of Education with negligence, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The girl attends Ashburn Community Elementary, a K-8 school with a primarily low-income, black enrollment. Scores are low. Maybe that’s because students spend too much time watching irrelevant movies in class.

Few schools show R-rated movies in class. It’s hard to imagine why an exception would be made for “Brokeback Mountain.” On the other hand, I think the student can learn to handle the trauma of cowboy sex without $400,000 in therapy.

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  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Next, Girls Gone Wild?

  2. Personally, I think that the big money should be in some form of punitive damages rather than real damages. I doubt the girl was irrevocably harmed by seeing Brokeback Mountain or that she even asked to be excused from watching it in some way to explain how her viewing could be false imprisonment. But the suit needs to hurt the district enough that they become concerned about this having occurred. Although good subs are rare, I doubt that firing the substitute hurts the district much at all, and unfortunately something needs to happen to make them interested enough to provide the kind of oversight to prevent this in the future.

    (I don’t have any particular problem with Brokeback Mountain, but you can’t have substitutes just randomly showing sexually or romantically themed movies to kids with absolutely no curricular merit.)

  3. For years I couldn’t show Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet because it used to be rated R. Fortunately, the rating has been changed.

  4. Generally, substitutes are underpaid and they have very little oversight.

  5. trotsky says:

    The girl is “currently undergoing psychological treatment and counseling,” according to the lawsuit.

    I thought it was only straight men who were traumatized by “Brokeback.”

  6. Walter E. Wallis says:

    If the individuals responsible I would not object to punative damages. Awards that skip over the responsible folk and go directly to the taxpayers, I am less in favor.

  7. Devilbunny says:

    Robert Wright – there was only one scene IIRC that made Zef’s R&J an R-rated movie; Juliet bared her chest. The principal at my high school just dubbed it and edited out the flash. The movie was then shown without issue.

  8. False imprisonment?