This Valentine’s day, on Feb. 14, the school screened Love, Simon, an American romantic comedy. Roughly twenty students and five staff members attended the event.
When the movie was initially released in March 2018, Mr. Dylan Bach, learning support teacher, pushed for the movie to be screened at the school. The original idea behind screening the movie was to support the LGBTQ+ movement in India. It was also meant to be a stress-buster for students.
Love, Simon, being the first of its kind, showcases gay romance in teens which led to a lot of controversies worldwide and not just at the school.
In India, many appeals were made to the national Censor Board for the movie to be banned, which were, however, denied. Hence, because of its nature and popularity, the movie was scheduled to be screened on campus.
On the day of the screening, members of the school’s board of directors decided to step in and cancel the screening of the movie. Their reason for doing so, they stated, was that the movie was R-rated in the country, which meant that legally, a school could not screen it.
Many students and staff suspected that the real reason for the objection was because of the sensitive topic of homosexuality that was highlighted in the film.
Mr. Bach, who organized the screening, as well as students and staff were extremely disappointed. The incident created a huge uproar in the school. Back then, the word “homophobia” was used to describe the whole situation.
Students pointed out that they knew the school to be a more liberal and supporting community and the fact that there had been many other screenings of R-rated movies at school before, only raised the suspicion that the school was being extremely conservative and intolerant.
In protest, students and staff wore stickers with the LGBTQ flag during the next board meeting in Apr. 2018. However, the board rejected this by regarding the screening on an R-rated movie as a legal challenge.
Later in 2019, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) changed the rating of the movie to PG-13. This meant that the movie could now be screened on campus, legally.
Mr. Bach, despite having faced criticism and backlash, decided to give it another shot. This time he was more confident. “I sent my request like any other event, although I did mention about how this issue could be sensitive,” he said.
On the morning of the screening, there was a lot of anticipation about whether the movie would be showed or not. However, with the principal, Dr. Craig Cook’s email of approval, it was clear that the event would be on.
Students had the opportunity — for the first time — to watch a gay romantic comedy at school. Along with the movie, they also got a chance to enjoy freshly baked cookies with their loved ones.
“Accepting people of all sexualities is pretty important to me personally”, Mr. Curran Russell, Head of Drama department, said.
“The reaction to that event and the welcoming of this year’s screening really highlight Woodstock’s on-campus community as one of acceptance,” Mr. Bach added.
Riya Gupta is the News Editor for The Woodstocker
Edited by Janvi Poddar and Archita Aggarwal
Featured image from deezer