CONWAY SPRINGS, Kan. – A Kansas teacher will not be back in the classroom after showing his class a controversial anti-bullying film.
In October, Tom Leahy became concerned following a school project at Conway Springs Middle School.
“We were doing a project on Thirteen Colonies and I was having the kids create their own colony and they had to have the reason they left their old country and they had to have a Bill of Rights for their country and tell me how they were going to run their colony and, you know, their water system, all that stuff,” Leahy said. “It started off pretty good, then when they started talking about how they were going to run their military, their police or who was allowed in, they started making a list of not what they believe in, but what they didn’t believe in and so that started to become a concern.”
Leahy said some students began talking about sexual orientation, and how they would ban homosexuals from their colony.
At that point, he says he knew he needed to act.
Leahy decided to show the video, “Love is All You Need?” in class.
The film focuses on a young girl who is attracted to boys in a world where homosexual couples are widely accepted.
“I wanted kids to see that and see that different perspective and how would they feel if they were this young girl and bullied in her belief in liking boys, which is totally opposite of the world we see,” he told KWCH.
However, the video does feature some graphic content. The girl is bullied and beat up throughout the film, which ends with her suicide.
“I think it made them think. During, after the video, I had a few questions and I talked about them. They said some of it wasn’t fair and some of it, you know, ‘We’d never do that to somebody.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s true, but that’s what this movie is trying to point out,” he said.
The film not only created a discussion among students, but also parents.
Many were concerned with the graphic nature of the movie, adding that they never gave permission for their children to see this type of video.
School administrators say Leahy also didn’t ask them for permission, which is school policy.
Leahy says if he could go back, he would have received permission first and would not have shown the suicide scene.
“I loved what the message of the video was but I should have done it in a different way and I understand what the superintendent and the board are having to do. I hold nothing against them at all,” Leahy said. “I take full responsibility for showing this video and not going to the principal. That’s all, that’s on me.”
Leahy says he still believes in the video and says the district needs to teach tolerance at a young age.
Warning: This video contains graphic images that may be offensive to some viewers.