The Controversy

 

Since its internet release, the powerful and controversial content of the short has created ripples in the press. As described in the video above, a Palatka, FL, teacher was put under fire in 2013 for showing the film to students. Director K. Rocco Shields flew to Palatka to attend a follow-up PTA meeting, which was cancelled. Ultimately, the teacher’s contract was not renewed.

Additionally, on November 2, 2015, the media broke the story that a Kansas social studies teacher, Tom Leahy, an educator for over 20 years, had been asked to resign after showing eighth-grade students the anti-bullying, viral short. He aired the video in class following a fictional colony assignment during which at least one group decided homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed in their colony, spurring conversation amongst the students.

The story was widely covered not only in Kansas but also on the national and international level. It was picked up by Associated Press and was covered by publications including The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Washington Times and ThinkProgress. Public influencers such as George Takei shared the short on their social handles, and interviews and clips of the film aired on local stations including FOX, ABC and Eyewitness News.

Following the vast media coverage and support from individuals, Leahy refused to resign, and the Conway Springs school system officially reinstated him. He continues to support the film.

 
 

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