D86 Board Decision on Racy Movies Not What Most Audience Members Wanted
After more than 25 public comments, board members decided Monday night to not temporarily suspend showings of "American Beauty" and "Brokeback Mountain" in a Film as Literature class.
Four hours into Monday's meeting of the District 86 Board of Education, numerous audience members got what they wanted: a vote on whether to temporarily suspend the showing of two movies, “American Beauty” and “Brokeback Mountain,” in a Film as Literature class at Hinsdale South.
The result of the vote, on the other hand, was likely not what many of those audience members were hoping for.
Board members voted 5-2 to table a motion made by board member Richard Skoda that would have temporarily kept the movies from being shown while a curriculum objection filed by a Hinsdale South parent was processed.
More than 25 parents, students, and teachers spoke during a 75-minute audience communication portion of the meeting Monday, and only eight defended the showing of the movies. Most who spoke said the movies were offensive and should not be shown.
Skoda told the board that a Catholic organization, which he did not identify, rated both movies as "O," or morally offensive. A website search finds the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and American Catholic Organization gave that rating to the two movies.
“Why are we showing morally offensive movies?" asked Skoda, who said he is not Catholic.
Board President Dennis Brennan, a Catholic, said what movies the church finds offensive “has nothing to do with why District 86 is running them.”
Brennan's comments drew a few boos from the audience.
Statements Monday from speakers against screening the movies included the following:
- Sophia Foley of Hinsdale: ”I’m not a far-right conservative. I believe in diversity. I think ‘American Beauty’ probably should not be shown to the kids.”
- Lisa Hultmark of Darien: ”’American Beauty’ really does border on very suggestive. If it was found on a teacher’s computer, I believe there probably would be some sort of sexual charge [against the teacher].”
- Amy Keane of Hinsdale, who substitute teaches at Hinsdale Central: “There has to be a standard for our communities." Keane said she watched both films over the weekend and, “The images are seared in my mind.”
- Janet Casini of Burr Ridge, whose husband, Victor, filed a curriculum objection that began this conversation, said the couple talked to many people, conservative and liberal, about the films being shown and their reaction was, “You’ve got to be kidding!”
- Victor Casini said “reasonable people believe there has to be a standard for something in a high school classroom. Who should set the standard? It should be the school board.”
Students in the Film as Literature class needed a parent’s signature to watch the seven movies being shown but had an option to opt out if the family found them offensive. Several audience members, though, said they think there is a stigma attached to students not watching movies with the rest of the class.
Hinsdale South student Kyle Labak presented a petition during his public comment that he said had 255 signatures from people who agreed that every parent has the right to decide what their child sees, but children also should have educational opportunities.
”We’re treading on very thin ice now,” he said about others' effort to stop the screenings. ”We should make sure we don’t create anger in this community.”
Statements from those who supported the showing of the movies included:
- Tanner Makris, student liaison to the school board from Hinsdale Central: “If you censor these films, where do you draw the line of educational and non-educational?”
- Kenneth Casper of Hinsdale: “My opinion is controversial subjects are good and should be discussed in school."
Patch's past reporting on the District 86 movie-objection topic:
- D86 Parent on Objection to Sexually Suggestive Movies: 'Maybe Mine Will Open the Door'
- D86's Wahl: PD's Movie-Related Email Investigation Ongoing, School Safety Not Threatened
- Complaints About Sex-Heavy Films in School Prompt Cops to Review District Emails
- D86 Superintendent: 'Brokeback' and 'American Beauty' Staying on Syllabus for Now
- 'Highly Controversial' Movies Being Shown in Class Have D86 Parent Concerned