Gay cowboys cause psychological injury?

More crazy tort cases from the US… Apparently a 14 year old girl is suing the Chicago Board of Education for emotional distress suffered when her class was shown the film Brokeback Mountain. I presume the emotional distress arose because of the film’s portrayal of a closet homosexual relationship between two cowboys. She purportedly seeks damages of $500,000.

What exactly is so distressing about the revelation that cowboys may have a covert homosexual relationship? I can understand that girl’s guardians may have wished to have had a say in whether she watched the film. Further, they may not have wished her to learn about homosexuality from a film. But I can’t see how this gives her an entitlement to half a million bucks.

I was trying to think of a topic about which I would feel outraged if a school teacher exposed my child to it without my consent. I think if a school showed a film with graphic violence to my teenage daughter, for example, I would want a say in it. But I don’t think suing the school would be the answer. I would raise my concerns with the school, and say that I thought it was inappropriate. I would also counsel my daughter and encourage her to talk about anything she found disturbing or worrying. Surely that’s all that a guardian or parent needs to do? Suing for half a million is really over the top.


Someone has pointed out that Brokeback Mountain shouldn’t be shown in schools because it is rated R. This is a very good point. So the teacher certainly should not have been showing the film to students under the age of 18. But still…$500,000 for emotional distress?

I wonder if you could sue the school for breaching the film classification recommendations – sounds to me like that’s a more productive way to go to prevent this sort of thing in the future.



Filed under crazy stuff, education, law, parenthood, sex education, sexuality, tort law

2 responses to “Gay cowboys cause psychological injury?

  1. Personally I would be outraged if my daughters school showed Al Gores “an inconvenient truth” to the children…

  2. -k

    It’s amazing what parents will complain about.

    A few years before I started at my current place of employment, a mother of a junior student took the school to the papers because, as a Christian, she disapproved of the ‘sexual content’ in a school novel (the sexual content to which she so objected was a completely contextual description of puberty).

    Nothing came of it, as it’s a text used and approved statewide, however it gave me pause – there are so many texts, films, theories (I’ve had a student denounce evolution in my class before) with the capability to be controversial – it’s no wonder we’re drowning in a sea of political correctness.

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