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School's Out: The Life of a Gay High School in Texas (2003)

One teacher and a handful of students, who are pariahs in more traditional schools because of the sexual preferences, struggle with all of the angst and troubles of high school kids in additions to the problems novel to their situation.

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One teacher and a handful of students, who are pariahs in more traditional schools because of the sexual preferences, struggle with all of the angst and troubles of high school kids in additions to the problems novel to their situation.

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17 April 2003 (USA)  »

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A strange film with a seemingly muddled view – worth seeing for it (accidentally?) reinforcing that segregation is a bad thing
22 November 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Outside of New York and LA the only option for homosexual students seeking a school for them and them alone is in Dallas in Texas. With only ten students this year the school faces an unsure future, not to mention the problems with the group of kids. On top of the usual problems with being teenagers, the group struggle with issues of mixed-sexualities, cruelty, love, STDs and b*tching sessions galore.

From the start until the very end I wasn't sure what this film was trying to achieve in the telling. Perhaps it was just trying to record this group of people and nothing more but I doubt it had no agenda or opinion behind it. If it did then it failed to really bring it out and it seemed to send a message that was contrary to the rather intimate interest it takes in its subjects. First of all the film struggles because all (yes, all) of the students are fairly unpleasant people who not only are whiney teenagers but they also all come across as a load of stereotypes – angry lesbians, flaming queens, confused transsexuals and so on. Of course this is who they are so I am probably being unkind but in my defence I really did give this film my time and effort but found myself a bit lost by the film.

The main problem for me was the film seeming to want to support the school but with every frame and every word it seemed to be showing just what a bad idea the whole thing is. Is segregation the answer? I really hope not because it sends a bad message as to how we deal with our differences – I'm sure that the students did get hard times (not helped by their overdoing every neck jerk and 'you go girl') but is cutting them off from society the answer? I was left with the impression that placing this group together helped none of them – people benefit from mixing with others from different cultures and of different beliefs, sure it has problems but it is better than teaching the kids that they should just withdraw from society and go further into just this one aspect of their lives. One could also argue that basing an education around your sexual orientation is a bad thing – imagine the (understandable) outcry if a school was created with a 'straights only' policy, why is it OK for 'homosexuals only'?

Overall this is a strange film. It seems to support the school even though every single frame of the film screams out just what a bad idea it is and just how damaged the majority of the students are (that is not a comment aimed at their sexuality, just the way they came across as people in this film). I would like to talk to the makers just to see what they actually think but for me this film was worth seeing because it makes me more certain that no differences or difficulties are really solved by segregation or by just withdrawing into a life consisting of only those who look and think like you do.


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